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BP 'flattered' by approach to develop disputed oilfields in Iraq

  • In mid-October, Iraq called on BP to help develop oilfields in the disputed — and oil-rich — Kirkuk province after central government forces loyal to Baghdad swept through the Kurdish-held territory
  • BP CEO Bob Dudley told CNBC on Friday that the oil giant was "flattered" to have been asked by Baghdad
  • "I wouldn't rule it out but I don't think anything is going to happen soon," Dudley concluded
Robert 'Bob' Dudley, chief executive officer of BP Plc.
Christophe Morin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Robert 'Bob' Dudley, chief executive officer of BP Plc.

BP CEO Bob Dudley refused to rule out the possibility that Britain's oil major could be poised to help develop oilfields in disputed areas of Iraq on Friday.

He told CNBC that the oil giant was "flattered" to have been asked by Baghdad.

In mid-October, Iraq called on BP to help develop oilfields in the disputed — and oil-rich — Kirkuk province after central government forces loyal to Baghdad swept through the Kurdish-held territory.

"With all of these things, you just have to wait, there will be an evolution. There's nothing that's going to happen tomorrow at all, but we are flattered that they would like us to come in and help develop that field," BP CEO Bob Dudley told CNBC on Friday.

'Comfortable working in places with political change'

Fighting between central government troops and Kurdish forces has hampered pipeline exports in OPEC's second-biggest producer.

Iraq's prime minister rejected an offer to hold talks with Kurdish officials Thursday, after authorities in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region asked lawmakers in Baghdad to "freeze" the result of last month's independence referendum.

Baghdad has repeatedly insisted September's vote, in which people decisively backed secession, was both illegitimate and illegal.

Shortly after the vote, Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered the country's military to retake disputed territories owned by the Kurds — including the region of Kirkuk. The military maneuvers have since sparked clashes that have left dozens dead and injured many more.

BP began working in a technical capacity in Iraq's Kurdish region in 2013, before pulling back amid an escalation of geopolitical uncertainty two years later.

"The pipeline goes out through Kurdistan so it is not clear to me but we work and live in a very volatile industry and we are comfortable working in places with political change. So I wouldn't rule it out but I don't think anything is going to happen soon," Dudley concluded.