There Goes the Neighbourhood

Iraq in Talks With Chevron, Exxon
By SPENCER SWARTZ Dow Jones Newswires
© 2007 The Associated Press

LONDON — Iraq is in negotiations with Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. to build a new $3 billion petrochemical facility, and is in talks with several other Western companies over industrial projects.

In an interview Thursday, Iraq’s minister for industry and minerals Fowzi Hariri said the discussions with Chevron and Exxon began this week in Washington and are at an early stage.

“It will be one or the other company for this new facility, not both,” he said. “We’re hoping to have a (Memorandum of Understanding) in place by about July.”

Hariri took his first trip to Washington early this week and met with several companies about industrial projects. The other leg of his trip took him to London, where he also met with a number of firms.

The minister, who has been in his post since last June, said the issue of security was a prominent feature of the discussions, given the sectarian conflict that has come to characterize Iraq over the past year. He said he emphasized to the companies that much of the violence has been in Baghdad. “What you see on the television is real … but it’s concentrated in the capital,” said Hariri.

The discussions with the companies have been greatly aided by an Iraq foreign investment law that won final approval last October, he said.

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