Kuwait Energy aims to increase its exploration activities in southern Iraq, but is not planning to expand operations to the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.

The company’s chief executive, Sara Akbar, said that the company does not want to jeopardise its strong relationship with Baghdad by dealing with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Akbar also said that it was the company’s ambition to develop extensive gas operations in the south of Iraq that would lead to eventual gas exports to Kuwait.

Kuwait Energy is developing the Siba gas field, near the Kuwaiti border and has a stake in the Mansuriyah field in Diyala province close to Iran. It plans to spend about $400m on its gas operations over the next two years.