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TotalEnergies reverses Iraq exit decision, reviving hope for mega-deal

"Goodwill gesture" keeps the door open to further negotiations ahead of a Feb. 15 deadline, but key points of contention still appear unresolved.
TotalEnergies Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne speaks after signing ceremony in Beirut on Jan. 29, 2023, as QatarEnergy joins TotalEnergies and Eni to explore Lebanon's offshore oil and gas. (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

TotalEnergies has reversed its decision to withdraw staff from Iraq in an attempt to salvage a $27 billion deal that is foundational to Iraq's plans for increasing production of oil, gas, and electricity.

Multiple officials familiar with the company's operations in Iraq said the decision had come directly from CEO Patrick Pouyanné on Feb. 2, overturning his own prior decision for staff to leave the country in a phased withdrawal from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, which had already been partially implemented.

The decision is a gesture to show the company wants to keep the door open to further negotiations ahead of a Feb. 15 deadline, the officials said, but there is no indication the two parties have resolved the points of contention that led Total to begin withdrawing in the first place.

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