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Three sources told Reuters that Qatar is in talks to acquire a stake in a group of energy projects belonging to the French Total Energy company worth $27 billion in Iraq, as Baghdad hopes to stop efforts by Western energy companies to exit the country.
One of the sources said that "Qatar Energy" is looking to acquire a stake of about 30% in the project.
Energy companies rarely own 100% of projects and prefer to enter into partnerships to reduce risks.
Oil companies are seeking to leave Iraq as a result of the weak return from revenue-sharing agreements.
And when Total Energy and Baghdad signed an agreement in 2021 to build four giant projects for solar energy, gas, electricity and water in southern Iraq over a period of 25 years, hopes were high that companies would refrain from leaving the country.
Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP have sought to reduce their operations in Iraq over the past few years.
But the project, which aims to boost Iraq's economy and reduce its dependence on Iranian gas, has yet to get off the ground.
The Total Energies deal with Iraq, which needs initial investments of $10 billion, followed a visit from French President Emmanuel Macron in September 2021.
Sources close to the deal told Reuters in February 2022 that the terms of the agreement, which have not yet been announced or previously published, raised concerns among Iraqi politicians and were unprecedented for Iraq.
The deal includes the construction of a network to collect natural gas to supply local power plants through the expansion of the Ratawi field, the construction of a large-scale seawater treatment facility to boost production from other fields with water injection technology, and the establishment of a large solar power plant in Basra, but there has been little progress since then. .
Sources told Reuters last year that disagreements over the terms of the agreement threatened the project with cancellation.
Neither Qatar Energy nor the Qatari government communication office have yet responded to a request for comment on the talks.
Nor did Total Energies confirm the deal when contacted by Reuters.
A senior official in the Iraqi Oil Ministry said he was not aware of Qatar Energy's plans to acquire a stake in the Total Energy project.
A spokesman for the Elysee Palace said that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani, will travel to Paris later today, Thursday, and meet with Macron.
One of the sources told Reuters that Al-Sudani will also meet with Total Energies CEO Patrick Pouyanne in an attempt to end the crisis.
Two of the sources said that "Qatar Energy" and "Total Energies" are in talks about a stake in the project, and that there is great confidence that the deal will happen, although no final agreement has been reached yet.
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