BAGHDAD, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Oil Ministry on Saturday said its negotiations with U.S. Exxon Mobil over a mega project in southern Iraq are still on track, denying reports that the ministry has ended or excluded the U.S. firm from the strategic oil project.
"Not reaching an agreement or signing a contract between the two parties (oil ministry and U.S. firm) does not mean the end of negotiations or exclusion of Exxon Mobil from this project," the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The project, also known as Southern Iraq Integrated Project, includes developing two oil fields of Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi, pumping sea water into the oil fields in Iraq, as well as expanding and developing the capacities of storage, transportation and oil export, the statement added.
The project also includes building two processing units for associated gas, it said.
The statement also denied the information by the reports which claimed that the ministry is concluding a contract with the British BP and Italian Eni to replace or be part of Exxon Mobil.
"The ministry denies such news and refuses to manipulate information and facts by some journalists," the statement said.
It clarified that the contracts with BP and Eni were signed only for the purpose of supplying materials for two offshore oil pipelines which aimed at ensuring the export of crude oil through the southern export system.
In May, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told reporters that Iraq will sign a deal worth 53 billion U.S. dollars with Exxon Mobil and China's PetroChina to increase its oil production.
He said that the deal with the two oil firms is initial, as further discussions would be held to reach a final agreement.
With such a huge project, Iraq is seeking to improve the deteriorated economy and generate job opportunities, as well as improve the public services in the country.
Iraq's economy heavily relies on exports of crude oil, which account for more than 90 percent of the country's revenues.