Iraq wants Russians to replace Exxon at West Qurna-report


* Iraqi overture to be made to LUKOIL, Gazprom Neft - NefteCompass

* LUKOIL says no plans to take over at West Qurna-1 * Putin supports Russia push for Iraqi oil

MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Iraq is considering replacingExxonMobil with Russian companies at the supergiant WestQurna-1 oilfield, after the U.S. major angered Baghdad byventuring into Kurdistan, according to a media report citingindustry sources.

The northern Kurdish region has riled Baghdad by signingdeals with foreign oil majors, such as Exxon, Totaland Chevron , contracts the central government rejects asillegal.

Nefte Compass, a weekly energy newsletter about the FSU andEastern Europe, said on Thursday that Iraq is weighing whetherto replace Exxon with Russia's LUKOIL and Gazprom Neft

- both already involved in the country.

It said that the proposal was due to be raised at a meetingthis week between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki andRussian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting took place on Wednesday, but no such offers - ifthey were made - have been made public.

A spokesman for Russia's second-largest crude producerLUKOIL, which operates West Qurna-2, said the company is notplanning to increase its exposure in Iraq by acquiring a stakein West Qurna-1, reiterating the company's official line that itis satisfied with its portfolio in Iraq.

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the world's top natural gasproducer Gazprom , declined to comment.

Sources have told Reuters that Russia's top oil companyRosneft , may team up with Exxon in Iraq after the twohave struck a landmark agreement to jointly tap Arctichydrocarbon riches and oil and gas in North America.

Rosneft also declined to comment on the possibility ofentering Iraq.

On Wednesday, Putin, a vocal opponent of the U.S.-ledinvasion of Iraq in 2003, called for Russia to strengthen itspresence in the OPEC oil producer state at the meeting withal-Maliki.

Sources also said Gazprom Neft has no plans to freeze itsprojects in Kurdistan, it pledged to develop in August, refutingmedia reports. The company already has a project in Iraq, nearthe Iranian border, where it expects to produce about 15,000barrels per day from 2013.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; additional reporting byOlesya Astakhova, editing by William Hardy)

((vladimir.soldatkin@thomsonreuters.com)(+7 495 775 1242)(Reuters Messaging:vladimir.soldatkin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))