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Vancouver exploration company

Ivanhoe Energy

(IVAN)

saw its shares jump Wednesday after it published a press release saying it had spoken with "senior officials in Iraq" about oil and gas development projects there.

A company spokesman wasn't immediately available to explain the statement.

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The

Nasdaq

-traded shares were recently up 52 cents, or 8%, to $7.18, taking out its 52-week high of $7.10 in extremely heavy volume of more than 27 million shares. Ivanhoe was going for less than a dollar each as recently as mid-August and touched a 52-week low of 32 cents in January.

"Several of Ivanhoe Energy's technical personnel and senior executives, including Ivanhoe President Leon Daniel, have had prior experience working on oil projects at various fields in Iraq," the company observed in a release.

"Ivanhoe believes that its management's experience and prior work there could provide a valuable benefit in helping Iraq expedite the development activities needed to increase its oil production and reserves."

Ivanhoe's shares started to climb out of the doghouse in early October, after the company started publishing releases about a possible development project in China's Dagang Oil Field. They rose 9% on Oct. 28 when the company said it had begun exploration and development at China's Sichuan gas project.