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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LUKoil Looks for Political Backing in Iraqi Oil Deal

LUKoil signed a partnership deal with the Foreign Ministry on Monday and said it counted on its support as it prepares for talks to revive a giant oil deal in Iraq.

LUKoil and the ministry said in a statement that the deal, the first of its kind in Russia, aims to support LUKoil's projects abroad, defend the firm's interests by diplomatic means and facilitate the firm's meetings outside Russia.

LUKoil will in turn consult the ministry on energy issues.

"Our company is entering new regions, including politically unstable regions. We will especially need support of the ministry in Iraq," Interfax quoted LUKoil CEO Vagit Alekperov as saying at a signing ceremony that was closed to reporters from foreign media organizations.

Alekperov said last month that his company was optimistic about the prospects of reviving a Saddam Hussein-era deal to develop Iraq's giant West Qurna deposit after the Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft oil law.

The $4 billion deal to develop West Qurna is expected to be complicated by the fact that it was scrapped by Hussein's government just before he was toppled in 2003.

Iraq's parliament still has to pass a hydrocarbons law, aimed at setting out the framework for foreign companies investing in Iraq after decades of sanctions under Hussein and years of violence since the U.S.-led invasion.

Alekperov said LUKoil would send a delegation to Iraq for more talks in March or April.

Alekperov is a major shareholder in LUKoil along with U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips, which has 20 percent in the firm.