The Danish shipping and oil giant Maersk has temporarily halted its oil activities in Iraq due to the offensive of the Islamic State (IS) in the region.
Maersk Oil's interest in Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq, one of its most important growth areas, became even more pronounced back in January when it increased its investments in the region. But now, operations have been stopped.
“At the moment, our drilling program and the like are suspended because of the situation,” Nils Smedegaard Andersen, the chief executive of Maersk, told Børsen newspaper.
“We still believe that the activities in Kurdistan will function again. It won’t scare us away, but we don’t have any activity at the moment.”
Massive oil potential
Other foreign oil companies have refused to comment on the IS issue due to security reasons, and Major Lars Cramer-Larsen of the defence academy Forsvarsakademiet said the silence was worrying.
“This shows that IS is succeeding in scaring international companies away from Iraq,” Cramer-Larsen told Børsen.
“That’s their goal, and at the same time they will control the most important oil refineries in Iraq, making it impossible to export oil from the country to the rest of the world.”
The area in northern Iraq has enormous oil reserves and is considered one of the most promising oil areas in the world. According to the International Energy Agency, half of all future growth in the global oil industry will take place in Iraq and the Kurdish area.