Chevron Corp. (CVX) said Tuesday that it is resuming drilling operations in Iraqi Kurdistan and taking steps to send staff there again, in a sign that tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government are easing.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. oil company said it "expects to restart our drilling operations at our Sarta 3 block in the near future."
"We are taking all necessary steps to remobilize people and equipment to ensure we are well-prepared to resume operations" in the autonomous region, she said.
Chevron temporarily halted drilling in Iraqi Kurdistan in October after fighting erupted in Kirkuk, a predominantly Kurdish area just outside the semi-autonomous region.
Iraq's central government successfully moved to take over Kirkuk and its large oil fields after Kurdish authorities held a referendum on independence from Baghdad. Kirkuk accounted for almost half of the Kurdistan Regional Government's crude output and had been held by the Kurds since 2014, when Islamic State advances caused Iraqi forces to flee.
Iraqi Kurdistan has been hailed as one of the oil industry's last great frontiers, though there is dispute about the size of its reserves.
The region has carved out a significant amount of autonomy since former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's ouster in the second Iraq war, with its government striking deals with Chevron, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Russia's state oil firm, OAO Rosneft, over the objections of Baghdad.
Write to Benoit Faucon at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 16, 2018 06:35 ET (11:35 GMT)