Iraq hopes talks can resolve hitches in $10 bn Total deal
Iraq admitted Thursday it had differences with France's TotalEnergies over a $10-billion contract, including over the distribution of investments, but expressed hope they can be resolved through talks.
"We have given ourselves time to continue the dialogue and reach a satisfactory solution for the parties involved regarding certain points of contention, including the percentage of participation in the project," oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told reporters.
A senior Iraqi government official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said TotalEnergies was "unhappy and had decided to withdraw from Iraq", without providing further details.
Contacted by AFP, TotalEnergies declined to comment.
The French energy giant had signed the $10-billion contract with Iraq in September 2021, but the partnership has struggled to materialise amid reported signs of discord between the two sides.
The oil ministry spokesman Jihad told AFP that the Iraqi authorities had hoped for a 40 percent share in the investment, against 60 percent for TotalEnergies.
A source at the ministry said the French company wanted Iraq to have a smaller stake.
"There is a temporary delay that could extend for several months," Jihad said in reference to the negotiations.
"The government and the ministry are in favour of continuing the agreement.
"As for the information that some employees are withdrawing, you can ask Total," he added.
The $10-billion contract covers the construction of oil and gas processing facilities with the capacity for electricity production, along with a one-gigawatt photovoltaic power plant.
The tensions arose days after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani made his first visit to Paris last week, during which he signed a "strategic partnership treaty" with French President Emmanuel Macron.