ARKANSAS, January 2 (Future Headlines)- In a significant development in Southern Iraq’s oil industry, U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp has officially exited the West Qurna 1 oilfield, with PetroChina assuming the lead contractor role. The handover ceremony, attended by senior Iraqi oil officials, executives from ExxonMobil, PetroChina, and Basra Oil Co, marks the completion of Exxon’s departure from the project. This shift in leadership comes after Iraq’s acquisition of a substantial stake in West Qurna 1 from ExxonMobil, showcasing the evolving dynamics in the global oil market.

On a momentous day at the West Qurna 1 field near Basra, senior Iraqi oil officials gathered with representatives from ExxonMobil, PetroChina, and Basra Oil Co to formally bid farewell to ExxonMobil. Basim Mohammed, Deputy Oil Minister for Upstream Affairs, announced the official handover of operations to PetroChina, congratulating the company for becoming the lead contractor. This transition underscores the strategic changes occurring in Iraq’s oil sector and signals ExxonMobil’s complete exit from West Qurna 1.

Last year, Iraq initiated a sale agreement to acquire a 22.7% stake in ExxonMobil’s share of West Qurna 1 through its state-run Basra Oil Co. In addition to this acquisition, Indonesia’s state-owned Pertamina purchased the remaining 10% of Exxon’s stake, boosting its overall share to 20%. The final settlement between Iraq’s oil ministry and ExxonMobil has been characterized as a mutually beneficial arrangement, allowing both parties to pursue their interests effectively.

West Qurna 1 stands as one of the world’s largest oilfields, boasting recoverable reserves exceeding 20 billion barrels. At the time of ExxonMobil’s exit, the oilfield’s daily production reached approximately 550,000 barrels per day (bpd). The potential for further development is evident, with plans to increase production to 600,000 bpd by the end of 2024, as revealed by the head of Basra Oil Co. The handover to PetroChina positions the company to play a pivotal role in the ongoing and future operations of West Qurna 1.

With ExxonMobil’s departure, PetroChina emerges as the lead contractor in West Qurna 1. Holding the largest stake in the oilfield, PetroChina is now entrusted with overseeing and managing its operations. This shift in leadership aligns with the global energy landscape, reflecting the growing influence of Chinese corporations in securing and managing oil resources worldwide.

ExxonMobil’s exit from West Qurna 1 marks the conclusion of its presence in Iraq’s energy sector. The company, having completed its transition out of the oilfield, will no longer have a direct involvement in Iraq’s oil operations. The shift in focus aligns with ExxonMobil’s broader strategic decisions and its portfolio optimization efforts globally.

Despite the exit from West Qurna 1, Iraq’s government expressed a keen interest in inviting ExxonMobil to participate in future energy projects. The Deputy Oil Minister highlighted the government’s openness to collaborating with ExxonMobil on upcoming ventures, indicating a potential avenue for renewed engagement between the energy giant and Iraq.

The handover ceremony at West Qurna 1 reflects the evolving dynamics within the global oil market. Changes in leadership, stake redistribution, and strategic partnerships underscore the adaptability of major energy players to navigate shifts in geopolitical and economic landscapes. As countries seek to secure their energy futures, collaborations and transitions in oilfield management become integral components of the ever-changing energy narrative.

Reporting by Moe Khaled; Editing by Sarah White