The Irish company is taking a 20% stake — or “working interest” — in two highly prospective oil blocks in the Kurdistan region of the country.
Speaking yesterday, chief executive Brian O’Cathain said drilling could start within the next 12 months and that the new asset could rival the Isarene gas field in Algeria as a significant headline asset for Petroceltic.
“While significant discoveries have already been made, the Kurdistan region of Iraq remains a vastly under-explored area with huge potential,” he added.
“Our exploration activities in the region are already progressing and we plan to open an office in Erbil [Iraq’s fourth largest city] in the coming months.”
Petroceltic will initially invest some $72 million (€50m) in the project, which it says should have “significant” resource potential.
Recent discoveries in the region have uncovered oil resources of around five billion barrels.
Mr O’Cathain said that Petroceltic will continue to look at growth opportunities in new markets around northern Africa and the Middle East, as it looksto grow its presence in the region.
It has previously identified Egypt, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia as potential growth areas.