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Taqa 'to buy' Kurdish oil block stake

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company is in advanced talks to buy a stake in an oil block in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) is in advanced talks to buy a stake in an oil block in Iraqi Kurdistan by taking a majority interest in General Exploration Partners (GEP), industry sources said.

GEP is a joint venture between privately held Aspect Energy, which owns a 66.5 per cent interest, with the remainder held by a subsidiary of the Canadian group ShaMaran Petroleum.

The sources said Taqa was close to buying Aspect's share of GEP, but it was not clear whether ShaMaran would sell its interest.

"I do not know that the deal is done yet, but it is all but done," one of the sources said.

Kurdistan is often touted as one of the final frontiers for onshore oil exploration and it has signed deals with oil majors such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total. But those deals have angered Iraq's federal capital Baghdad, which rejects oil contracts offered by the Kurdistan region's government as illegal, and has blacklisted some firms that ventured north.

Carl Sheldon, Taqa's chief executive, declined to comment on GEP, but said Kurdistan was an attractive proposition. "We like Iraq, there's a range of opportunities in the Kurdish region," he told Reuters yesterday.

Earlier this year, Taqa bought a 50 per cent stake in a Kurdish power plant, having previously invested in WesternZagros Resources to acquire 19.9 per cent of the company.

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