UPDATE 1-TAQA in talks over Iraqi Kurdistan oil stake - sources

Reuters Middle East

ARBIL, Iraq, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi National Energy Co

(TAQA) is in advanced talks to buy a stake in an oil

block in Iraqi Kurdistan via joint-venture firm General

Exploration Partners, industry sources said.

GEP is a joint venture between privately-held Aspect Energy,

which owns a 66.5 percent interest in the company, with the

remainder held by a subsidiary of Canadadian group ShaMaran

Petroleum..

Industry sources said TAQA was close to purchasing Aspect's

share of GEP, but it was not clear whether ShaMaran would sell

its interest in the company.

"I do not know that the deal is done yet, but it is all but

done," one industry source said on Monday.

An autonomous region since 1991, Iraqi Kurdistan is often

touted as one of the final frontiers for on-shore oil

exploration and has signed deals with foreign majors such Exxon

Mobil, Chevron and Total.

But those deals have angered the federal capital Baghdad,

which rejects oil contracts offered by the Kurdistan region's

government as illegal, and has blacklisted some firms that

ventured north.

An Abu Dhabi source said the deal between TAQA and GEP was

"imminent", but gave no further details.

GEP, which has an 80 percent stake in the Atrush block, said

in September it had found a combined flow rate of 42,200 barrels

of oil per day. The other 20 percent of the block is held by

Marathon Oil Corp.

Asked to comment on whether TAQA was eyeing GEP, a spokesman

for TAQA said: "TAQA has already shown interest in the oil and

gas and power sectors in the Kurdish region of Iraq".

Earlier this year, TAQA bought a 50 percent stake in Kurdish

power plant Chamchamal, having previously invested $46.6 mln in

WesternZagros Resources to acquire 19.9 percent of the company,

which has contracts for two blocks in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

GEP was not available to comment.

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