Exxon is mulling sales of its West Qurna-1 stakes according to Iraq's oil ministry. The ministry is currently in talks with the U.S. companies regarding the possibility of acquiring Exxon's 32.7% stake in the field in southern Iraq.
Exxon Mobil's sale of its stake in one of its marquee oil fields in the Middle East is seen as the supermajor's strategy in reducing the mountain of debt that the company has accumulated last year.
Companies interested in buying Exxon's shares are China's oil giants China National Petroleum Corp. and CNOOC Ltd. based on Bloomberg's report last year.
West Qurna-1 is considered as one of the oil industry's top prizes in the reconstruction of Iraq after the Second Gulf War. Exxon has been the lead contractor in 2010 for the oil field but due to tough contractual terms, delays in payments, the cuts imposed by OPEC, along with the political instability in the region soured the outlook for the project.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Exxon's debts ballooned to more than $70 billion which prompted two downgrades from Moody's Investors Service in less than a year.
Exxon's stake in West Qurna-1 would bring at least $500 million should the sale go forward according to Bloomberg's report in November as sourced from people familiar with the matter.
Other stakeholders of the field are PetroChina with a 32.7% stake, Itochu Corp. of Japan with 19.6% stake and PT Pertamina of Indonesia with a 10% stake.