Western Oil Majors Reluctantly Return to Iraq

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE ADR: RDS.A, RDS.B) on Thursday won the right to develop Iraq's West Qurna-1 oilfield.

The agreement is the third such deal this year, which means Iraqi oil production could increase at a faster pace than previously expected and potentially lead to a drop in oil prices.

Iraqi officials earlier this week finalized an agreement with BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP) and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC). Policymakers also reached an initial agreement with a consortium led by Italy's Eni SpA (NYSE ADR: E) that will develop the Zubair oil field.