DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, agreed with ExxonMobil Corp. to join in on the Baeshiqa license in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, it said Sept. 8.

DNO will assume operatorship of the license with a 40% paying interest, acquiring one-half of ExxonMobil's position. ExxonMobil retains a 40% paying interest, the Turkish Energy Co. holds 20% paying interest and the Kurdistan Regional Government holds 20% carried interest.

Pending government approval, DNO will drill an exploration well in the first half of 2018 with a second exploration well to follow on a separate structure.

The 324 square kilometer license is situated 60 kilometers (km) west of Erbil and 20 km east of Mosul. ExxonMobil had previously conducted extensive geological and geophysical studies and constructed a drilling pad before work was interrupted due to security conditions in the region.

The Baeshiqa license contains two large, undrilled structures which are expected to have multiple independent stacked target reservoir systems, including in the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic.

DNO operates two other licenses in Kurdistan; one contains the Tawke and Peshkabir fields which together produce over 110,000 barrels of oil per day and the other contains the Benenan and Bastora heavy oil fields which are undergoing further appraisal and development.

“Following regularization of export payments and a landmark agreement with the government to close out our historical receivables, our foot is back firmly on the accelerator,” DNO's Executive Chairman, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, said.