The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has signed two production sharing agreements (PSAs) with a joint venture between the US’ Hess Corporation and Ireland’s Petroceltic.

The semi-autonomous region granted three-year contracts for the Dinarta and Shakrok blocks in the in the north of Iraq, according to a 27 July company release by Petroceltic.

Both blocks will be operated by Hess, while Petroceltic will take a 16 per cent share. The KRG will retain a 20 per cent stake in each block.

Petroceltic says it will invest $72m during the first phase of the licence, with the majority spent in the first six months.

The Dinarta block, located approximately 75 kilometres north of the provincial capital Irbil covers 1,319 square kilometres. According to Petroceltic the block contains a number of identified surface structures, the largest of which, the Chinara Anticline, is 25-km along strike from the Swara Tika-1 well, currently reported to be testing a significant new oil discovery. The Shakrok block, 50KM northeast of Irbil, covers only 418 sq km.

The partners plan to acquire 2D seismic for both blocks with a minimum of one exploration well to be drilled at each block.

The KRG has signed more than 30 PSAs since passing its own hydrocarbons law in 2007, although the legality of the deals is disputed by Baghdad (MEED 11:2:11).