ISTANBUL — Tony Hayward, the oil executive Americans learned to hate during last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is back in business, this time in the rich oil fields of northern Iraq.
At a news conference Thursday in Istanbul, Hayward announced the merger of his Vallares PLC with Turkey's Genel Energy in an effort to dominate exploration of the vast oil reserves of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. The new company also intends to invest in other areas in the Middle East.
"The only approval we need is from the Kurdistan regional government, and we expect that approval to take place before the end of September," Hayward said. " All of the indications in Kurdistan show that things are only going to get better. I think this is a good time to invest in the Kurdistan region."
Hayward was removed as the CEO of BP in July 2010 in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after a controversial appearance before a congressional committee that was investigating the causes of the disaster. He later set up Vallares, an investment company that raised $2.1 billion in June in a public offering.
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The company formed by Thursday's merger will be called Genel Energy PLC, with headquarters in Ankara, Turkey. Mehmet Sepil, the new company's CEO, said he expected the company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange in about four weeks.
Hayward said he was undeterred by debate in Iraq's parliament about a new oil investment law. "The debate around the hydrocarbon law will continue, and none of us know when it will be resolved," he said. "But we do know that whatever is the resolve, the Kurdistan region will have a significant say in what is finally approved."
Iraq halted oil exports from the Kurdish region for a year over a dispute between Kurdish authorities and the central government in Iraq about distribution of revenues, but it resumed them earlier this year.
Hayward said he and Sepil would travel to Irbil in northern Iraq to meet with authorities there after the announcement in Istanbul.
(Yezdani is a McClatchy special correspondent.)
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