TNK-BP, Russia's third-biggest oil producer, said on Monday it was considering developing hydrocarbon resources in Iraq as it seeks to make its first foray into the oil-rich country.
TNK-BP is interested in working in Iraqi upstream to the mutual benefit and in close cooperation with the central government of Iraq, TNK-BP, owned 50 percent each by BP and four Russia-connected billionaires, said in a statement.
The company said that, to date, it had not signed any exploration and production contracts with the Iraqi government, including projects in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
It did not specify which oilfields in Iraq were of interest to the company.
TNK-BP is not the first Russian oil company to consider investing in Iraq. State-controlled Russian industry leader Rosneft (ROSN.MM) and mid-sized oil firm Tatneft (TATN3.MM) are also examining the Iraq market.
And on Sunday, an Iraqi Oil Ministry official told Reuters the government body was considering revised offers from Exxon Mobil and Russia's No. 2 crude producer, LUKOIL, for the West Qurna oilfield.
The Russia-connected billionaires and BP last year called a truce in a bitter dispute over management at TNK-BP, which rattled investor confidence in Russia.
The Russian side at the time accused BP of trying to inhibit the joint venture's plans to expand overseas. TNK-BP has said any differences have since been resolved.
Iraq, which relies on oil sales for almost all of its income and desperately needs to boost revenues to rebuild its dilapidated infrastructure, aims to offer another 10 oilfields to oil majors in December.
In a previous round of oil contract auctions in June, the only long-term service deal came to BP and China's CNPC.
Investment in Iraq's oil sector has been dogged by a lack of updated hydrocarbon laws, whose passage has been hampered by a spat between Baghdad and Iraq's Kurdish region over the right to sign oil deals and a host of other issues.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Anthony Barker)