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Reuters: Western Oil Sands casts eye on Iraq’s Kurdistan

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Western Oil Sands Inc. (WTO.TO: Quote), whose sole business is a stake in a Canadian oil sands project, said on Tuesday it will explore for oil in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

The Calgary-based firm said its WesternZagros Ltd. unit has signed a exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) with the Kurdistan Regional Government, Sulamaniyah Administration.

“We believe this EPSA is an early-entry opportunity into a highly prospective area and, subject to exploration success, could provide Western with an additional world-class asset,” Jim Houck, chief executive of Western Oil Sands, said in a statement.

Western, which owns a 20 percent stake in the Athabasca oil sands project operated by Shell Canada Ltd. (SHC.TO: Quote), said it has agreed to spend at least $45 million over four years exploring in what it called the Zagros Fold Belt of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. an area the company said was under-explored.

Western said the agreement must be passed into law, which it expects to occur “in the coming months.”

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