London-listed oil firm Genel Energy has agreed two deals worth $94m, which will give it a controlling stake in the Chia-Surkh oil exploration block in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

Genel has increased its interest in the block to an 80 per cent stake, from 20 per cent, and gained the status of operator, according to a 16 January company announcement.

Two deals were struck: one worth $68m for a 40 per cent state from Canada’s Longford Energy; and $26m for a 20 per cent stake from Turkey’s Petoil Petroleum.

“More recent seismic data, acquired in 2010, confirmed Chia-Sukh as a faulted anticline that contains three or four structures we consider interesting,” says Genel chief executive officer, Tony Hayward.

The company is preparing to drill an exploration well during 2012 and expects further drilling over the next two years as it conducts a comprehensive exploration programme to evaluate the block.

An estimate by independent US assessors McDaniel & Associates in mid-2011 put Chia-Surkh’s reserves at about 305.7 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Genel Energy was formed in 2011 by the acquisition of Turkey’s Genel Enerji by the UK’s Vallares  (MEED 11:1:12).