LONDON/BAGHDAD — BP has pulled out of Iraq's giant Kirkuk oilfield after its $100 million exploration contract expired with no agreement on the field's expansion, dealing a fresh blow to Iraq's hopes to increase its oil output, three sources told Reuters.
The move comes as Western energy companies reassess their operations in Iraq amid political turmoil following months of anti-government protests and a flare-up in tensions between the United States and Iran in the country.
BP informed Iraqi authorities last month that it was pulling its staff out of the oilfield in the north of the country after its 2013 service contract expired at the end of 2019, the sources familiar with the matter said.
The de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, will be high on the agenda at next week’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which is the organisation’s 50th yearly gathering in Davos, Switzerland.
Taking part in these efforts will be regional leaders including Barham Salih, Iraq’s President and Iraqi Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani, organisers said on Tuesday.
The United Nations special envoy for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, will also be in Davos.
It is outrageous to expect Iraq, which has suffered the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the destruction of its infrastructure and economy, to pay for its own occupation.
When US President Donald Trump threatened to make Iraq pay for the sprawling US base west of Baghdad if it forced American troops to leave the country, I reached out to an old friend who was a professor of international development studies at George Washington University.
Did he see any parallels, I asked, between Trump’s demand for billions of dollars from Iraq and a despicable, long-ago international episode between France and Haiti?
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it was taking control of the most indebted nation in the world.
Why it matters: Iraq's debt at the time was an astonishing $130 billion, and the eradication of that debt was a rare example of international unity and cooperation in the interests of a debtor country.
The full story is told in "Tracing Iraqi Sovereign Debt Through Defaults
and Restructuring," a new paper from the London School of Economics' Simon Hinrichsen, who has also created the astonishing chart above.