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TotalEnergies’ staff return to Iraq after project dispute, sources say

TOTALENERGIES-RESULTS-ADANI:TotalEnergies has not signed contract on new Adani hydrogen venture - CEO
TOTALENERGIES-RESULTS-ADANI:TotalEnergies has not signed contract on new Adani hydrogen venture - CEO Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023
By Reuters
Published on Updated
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By Rowena Edwards and Aref Mohammed

LONDON/BASRA -Foreign staff at French oil major TotalEnergies have returned to Iraq after disputes with Baghdad over a $27 billion cluster of major energy projects prompted their exit, two sources told Reuters on Friday.

The return of TotalEnergies' staff shows that their exit is simply a negotiating tactic, member of the Iraqi parliament Mustafa Jabbar Sanad wrote in a Twitter post on Friday.

Jabbar Sanad wrote on Jan. 30 that TotalEnergies had asked its foreign staff to leave Iraq to obstruct negotiations over the energy project.

TotalEnergies staff never left Iraq, a spokesperson said on Friday.

The company did not respond to repeated requests for comment from Jan. 30 until Feb. 2 when it declined to comment, citing a quiet period ahead of its 2022 results.

When TotalEnergies commented on Friday, it had yet to publish the results due on Feb. 8.

The company and Baghdad are taking further time to hammer out key sticking points in the long-delayed energy deal, Iraq's oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said on Thursday.

TotalEnergies agreed in 2021 to build four oil, gas and renewables projects with an initial investment of $10 billion in southern Iraq over 25 years.

The deal has experienced several setbacks amid disputes between Iraqi politicians over its terms, sources told Reuters early last year.

TotalEnergies had asked its foreign staff to leave the country and local employees to work from home, four Iraqi sources confirmed this week, as it struggles to resolve differences with Baghdad.

Foreign staff have now returned and everything is back to normal, according to two oil ministry sources on Friday, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

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