A top Kurdish delegation headed by the Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani have met with management board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft including Chief Executive Officer Igor Schein in St. Petersburg Wednesday in the first leg of an official visit to the Russian Federation.
A statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said the meeting cantered around cooperation between the KRG and Rosneft in the Kurdish energy sector and broader investment in oil industry of the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdish delegation is invited to Russia to take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday which brings together the chief executives of major Russian and international companies, and senior officials from government and big organizations.
Prime Minister Barzani is also scheduled to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin at the three-day forum.
In February, this year the KRG negotiated a deal with Rosneft to secure $3 billion in loans that would be repaid with future oil sales, according to the Kurdish Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami.
The Russian firm announced in early April that the cash-stripped Kurdish government was expected to receive around $1 billion in advance from Rosneft for the first oil cargo of 600,000 barrels.
The Russian state-run firm plans to buy the Kurdish crude until 2019, Rosneft has said without specifying how much oil it will take.
The deal with the Rosneft is of importance after two US oil firms relinquished interest in a number of oil fields in the Kurdistan Region over the past years.
US oil giant Exxon Mobil pulled out of half of the six exploration blocks it operated in the Kurdistan Region last December.
The oil company walked away from its operations in the Qara Hanjeer, Arbat East, and Betwata blocks, according to the Iraq Oil Report journal citing Kurdistan's Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami and Exxon spokeswoman Lauren Kerr.
"Some companies didn't meet contractual deadlines and according to the contract had to relinquish their areas," the minister was quoted as saying.
Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company after Exxon Mobil, relinquished its interest in the Rovi block north of Erbil at the end of 2015 but continued to test wells in the Sarta area.