Gulf Keystone Rises in London as Partner Wins Kurdistan Oil Deal

Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd., an oil producer in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, surged to the highest level in six weeks in London after its partner won an approval to start operations at its block.

The shares climbed as much as 19 percent to 76 pence, the highest intraday level since Sept. 15, and traded at 72.25 pence as of 10:11 a.m. local time. Hungarian oil producer Mol Nyrt. today said it received approval from Kurdistan’s Minister for Natural Resources for the Akri-Bijeel Block, in which Gulf Keystone holds a 20 percent working interest.

“Phase I will start immediately with 4 drilling rigs and 1 work over rig to help reduce the overall timeline with front-end-loading wherever possible for Phase II,” Mol said in statement to Budapest bourse.

Gulf Keystone is seeking to increase output to 40,000 barrels a day from 23,000 barrels by the end of the year after returning its staff to the region. Oil producers, including Chevron Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and Afren Plc, evacuated workers and halted drilling in August after Islamic State took control of a swath of northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

“The approval of the field development plan for the Akri-Bijeel Block is a culmination of years of exploration and appraisal, which will now lead to a development phase and production in due course,” Gulf Keystone Chief Executive Officer John Gerstenlauer said in a statement today. “It is an important milestone for all stakeholders in the Akri-Bijeel project.”

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