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Gulf Keystone sees interest in block sale

Gulf Keystone sees interest in asset sale; CEO says company well-funded, not for sale

November 14, 2011 1:29 by

Kurdistan-focused oil explorer Gulf Keystone said it has interest for its 20 percent stake in the Arki-Bijeel block in the semi-autonomous region, but any sale was still in the preliminary stages, an executive said.

The block in Kurdistan is estimated to hold around 2.4 billion barrels of oil and is operated by Hungary’s MOL.

“We’ve got a lot of interested parties, but we have not identified a purchaser,” Gulf Keystone CEO Todd Kozel told Reuters. “We haven’t gone to the bidding process yet. It’s in the data room process, data gathering and identifying interest.”

Kurdistan is enjoying a surge in investor interest. The semi-autonomous region in the north of Iraq has enjoyed more stability and security than the rest of the country where violence remains a stubborn risk.

“Kurdistan is the hottest play in town in the oil business,” Kozel said.

Still, Baghdad and Kurdistan’s capital Arbil have a long-standing dispute over who controls oilfields and land. The central government calls Kurdistan’s deals with foreign oil companies illegal.

Kozel said Gulf Keystone was already fully funded to build a pipeline and would be “very well funded” for their budget with the asset sale they plan.

But the executive said there were no plans to sell the company.

“Gulf Keystone is not for sale,” he said. “We have not been approached by any company making an offer.”

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