HOUSTON (Dow Jones)–Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told U.S. diplomats that Chevron Corp. (CVX) has been in talks with Tehran about a cross-border oilfield, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.
The cable, sent by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, summarizes a conversation between the U.S. diplomats and the Iraqi premier in March 2009. According to the communication, viewed on the WikiLeaks website, al-Maliki asked the U.S. charge d’affaires whether a U.S. company would legally be able to operate a field underlying both sides of the Iraq-Iran border. The U.S. diplomat said that U.S. law on sanctions would forbid it, according to the cable.
The Iraqi leader said that he would prefer to have Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company after Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), work the field, but if U.S. rules prevented it, he would deal with a non-U.S. company, the cable said. The contents of the cable were first reported by U.K. newspaper The Guardian earlier Thursday.
Iran is subject to strict U.S. trade sanctions because of concerns in Washington about Iranian nuclear policy. The U.S. has pushed several international oil companies, such as France’s Total S.A. (TOT, FP.FR) and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA, RDSB, RDSA.LN, RDSB.LN), to reduce their involvement in Iran, a major oil producer and a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Chevron acts in full compliance with U.S. law,” a Chevron spokesman wrote…