A Canadian group led by Niko Resources will give up its exploration and production rights in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, after entering into a termination agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the Qara Dagh block.

The relinquishment and termination agreement was announced on 14 November by Niko Resources, along with Vast Exploration and Groundstar Resources, also of Canada, following an unsuccessful exploration period.

After the settlement of outstanding expenses, Niko says it expects to recover $14.9m.

Niko began a seismic acquisition programme at the Qara Dagh block in early 2009. The block is southeast of Sulaimaniya and covers an area of 846 square kilometres. It is located in the prolific Zagros region of northern Iraq, which contains several large fields including the huge Kirkuk field.

The termination at Qara Dagh follows an announcement by the UK’s Sterling Energy that it plans to farm out its stake in the Sangaw North block, also in the Zagros region, located about 140 kilometres southeast of Erbil. Sterling signed a production-sharing agreement with the KRG in 2007. It holds a 53.33 per cent stake and is the operator of the block. The company is considering drilling an exploration well in 2013.