Stanley Reed The New York Times
LONDON — Genel Energy, the oil exploration company headed by Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of BP, announced Wednesday that it had made a significant oil find in Kurdistan.
Genel said its first well at Chia Surkh was producing almost 12,000 barrels of oil and 15 million cubic feet, or 435,000 cubic meters, of natural gas per day. “The reservoir is delivering at very high rates,” Mr. Hayward, the chief executive, said in an interview.
He said that before the company started drilling, third-party estimates indicated that there could be about 300 million barrels of oil in the field. If so, that would be a major addition to Genel’s proven and probable reserves of about 445 million barrels.
Genel holds 60 percent of the license area, which is in the extreme south of the Kurdish region of Iraq. The company’s stock price closed 6.4 percent higher in London on Wednesday.
Genel is the largest producer in Kurdistan, an autonomous part of Iraq that has struck exploration deals with Chevron and Exxon Mobil in recent years.
Despite the recent find, Genel is still unable to easily export its oil because of disagreements between Kurdistan and Iraq. The company’s production, which averaged about 45,000 barrels per day last year, could be substantially higher if export pipeline routes were available.
“Legitimate concern remains over the outlook in Kurdistan and we remain cautious pending a tangible framework defining availability of export markets and payments,” analysts at Liberum Capital, a brokerage house in London, wrote in a research note.
Kurdistan is working to construct export pipelines to Turkey. In the meantime, Genel is trucking as much as 25,000 barrels per day to Turkey for export.
The company is also talking to Turkish utilities and other potential customers for gas, Mr. Hayward said.
It is also trying to diversify its portfolio through exploration in Somaliland, Malta, Morocco and Ivory Coast.
Mr. Hayward noted that George Reynolds, who made the oil discovery in Persia that led to the creation of BP’s predecessor company, drilled in the area of the new find in 1903. That company, Anglo-Persian Oil, revisited the site several times without finding large amounts of oil.