Sitting on one of the largest oil finds in Iraqi Kurdistan was not enough to stop a dramatic decline in share price for the London-listed Gulf Keystone.
It seems the giant reserve is too big for the oil and gas company to handle alone and rumours of a takeover by an oil major that could lend a hand appear to have died.
After ExxonMobil signed exploration and production agreements for six blocks in the autonomous region in November, Gulf Keystone's stock soared on the expectation that the US oil major would acquire companies already active in Kurdistan.
In recent weeks, this belief has waned. Sales of Keystone stock intensified when it emerged on Tuesday that ExxonMobil had requested more time to decide whether to pursue its plans in Kurdistan at the cost of being excluded from a future bid round in the south.
"Gulf Keystone was boosted purely by takeover speculation well above the fundamental value of the company," said Peter Hitchens, an analyst at HSBC who rates the stock as "underweight".
"The markets wrongly took the view that ExxonMobil would come in and make acquisitions, and if Exxon pulls out that isn't going to happen."
Company stock plunged by more than 39 per cent from a high on February 20 to a three-month low on March 6.
Baghdad is opposed to oil contracts with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which they see as undermining the central government's control over the country's natural resources. It has in the past blacklisted oil companies with operations in Kurdistan from licensing rounds in Iraq proper.
"They really need a big company to take them over. They are sitting on one of the largest discoveries made in Kurdistan, and you do need a big balance sheet to get that developed up to full potential," said Mr Hitchens.
The share price decline was initiated by growing risk aversion from investors.
"The markets have been a bit weak anyway, a bit of risk has been taken away, and one of the highest risk investments is the exploration and production sector," said Mr Hitchens.