Iran Denies Taking Iraqi Oil Well; Iraq Forces Deployed

Saturday, Iran refuted Iraqi claims that its forces had taken control of an oil well in Iraqi territory, stating that the oil well in question was within its territory. Iran said it respected Iraqi territorial integrity and any dispute between the two neighbors would be sorted out through talks.

Iraq in turn has dispatched its security forces to the southern border area with Iran and is now deployed about one kilometer away from the disputed oil well site, according to officials. Iraq also summoned the Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad and registered its objection to the Iranian action, as well as communicated its displeasure to the Iranian Foreign Ministry through its Ambassador in Tehran.

Iraq's National Security Council has demanded that Iran immediately withdraw its troops and remove the Iranian flag at the oil well in al-Fakkah. The council said it considers the incursion as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Media reports on Friday said Iranian forces crossed over to Iraq and occupied oil well 4 at the al-Fakkah oilfield in the Iraqi province of Maysan. The al-Fakkah oil fields are reported to have an estimated 1.55 million barrels of oil reserves.

Iran's foreign ministry on Saturday tried to play down the matter, brushing aside the reports as malicious attempts at harming relations between the two countries. A spokesman for the Iranian foreign office also indicated the ministry, along with other related agencies as currently investigating the matter.

Iraq has put up oil well 4 in the al-Fakkah cluster of oilfields for auction to oil companies some time in June. Iraq first drilled the al-Fakkah oilfield in 1979 as part of its territories before the 8-year Iraq-Iran in 1980.

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