Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) has acquired a majority stake in the Altrush block in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, giving it operators’ status in the country for the second time.

Taqa acquired a 53.2 per cent stake in the exploration and production sharing agreement for the block from General Exploration Partners (GEP), an affiliate of the US’ Aspect Holdings.

The acquisition is expected to close before the end of the year, according to a 30 November statement.

Along with its acquisition at the Altrush block, Taqa has also disposed of its 20 per cent stake in Western Zagros Resources, a Canadian firm that holds two oil and gas production-sharing agreements in the Kurdistan region. The Sarqala block contains an estimated 66 million barrels of oil and the Kurdamir block contains 33 million barrels, along with 850 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

GEP was awarded the license for the 269 square kilometer Altrush block in November 2007 and the company drilled its first well in October 2010. The block holds an estimated 355 million barrels of oil.

The deal follows on from an agreement in April to take a 50 per cent stake in the 1,000MW Sulaymaniya power plant from Jordan’s Mass Holding.

State-owned investment company Taqa invests in oil and gas, as well as power and water assets. It owns hydrocarbon production, transport and storage facilities in the US, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands.