Locals protest oil exploration in Exxon block

In Kurdistan, fearing for their environment and way of life, village councils have banded together to protest development of ExxonMobil's Betwata block.
Locals protest oil exploration in Exxon block
A view of Betwata, a village in Iraqi Kurdistan and namesake of one of ExxonMobil's six exploration blocks. (PATRICK OSGOOD/Iraq Oil Report)

BETWATA - In a mountainous stretch of small villages where ExxonMobil has contracted to explore for oil and gas, Saifullah Hamad Mustafa stood over a small shallow hole in which dynamite would soon explode, creating the vibrations needed to analyze geological structures thousands of meters below.

"I hope they don't find oil here, because if they do, they will spoil the environment and want to kick people out," said Mustafa, a member of the local council of Betwata, a picturesque hillside village of around 60 families that gives the exploration block its name. "The village could die. Oil is not a blessing here."

This content is for registered users. Please login to continue.
If you are not a registered user, you may purchase a subscription or sign up for a free trial.
Iraq Oil Report Attribution Policy

All sources quoted or referenced spoke to Iraq Oil Report directly and exclusively, unless stated otherwise. Iraq Oil Report typically grants anonymity to sources that can't speak without risking their personal safety or job security. We only publish information from anonymous sources that we independently corroborate and are important to core elements of the story. We do not provide anonymity to sources whose purpose is to further personal or political agendas.

Iraq Oil Report Commitment to Independence

Iraq Oil Report strives to provide thoroughly vetted reporting and fair-minded analysis that enables readers to understand the dynamic events of Iraq. To meet this goal, we always seek to gather first-hand information on the ground, verify facts from multiple angles, and solicit input from every stakeholder involved in a given story.

We view our independence as an integral piece of our competitive advantage. Whereas many media entities in Iraq are owned or heavily influenced by political parties, Iraq Oil Report is wholly owned by several of its employees. In a landscape that is often polarized and politicized, we are able to gather and corroborate information from an unusually wide array of sources because we can speak with all of them in good faith.

To fund this enterprise, Iraq Oil Report depends on revenue from both advertising and subscriptions. Some of our advertisers and subscribers ‐ including companies, governments, and NGOs ‐ are also subjects of our reporting. Consistent with journalistic best practices, Iraq Oil Report maintains a strict firewall that removes business considerations from editorial decision-making. When we are choosing which stories to report and how to write them, our readers always come first.