Iraq Invites Foreign Companies for its 2nd Licensing Round

Source: Reuters 12/31/2008, Location: Middle East

Iraq on Dec 31, 2008 opened up some of its most prized oil and gas fields to international firms that have been excluded for decades, part of new deals that could more than double its output within a few years.

In a second bid round, following on from one earlier this year, Iraq has put forward 11 oil and gas fields, including super giants.

"Under service contracts prepared by the oil ministry, 11 oil and gas fields will undergo complete development," Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told a Baghdad news conference.

Two of the oilfields -- Majnoon and West Qurna Phase II -- are classed as super giants and between them could produce 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) when fully developed.

Shahristani named the other fields as Halfaya, East Baghdad, Gharrafa, Qayara, Najmah, Badrah, Kifil/West Kifil/Mirjan and a group in Diyala province, as well as the Siba gas field in Basra province.

He said the 11 fields could increase production by up to 2.5 million bpd within three to four years of the contracts being completed at the end of 2009. That increase is roughly equivalent to what Iraq produces today.

Three of the fields are jointly owned with neighbours Iran and Kuwait. Developing them would require bilateral deals with those states, which were not opposed, Shahristani said.

In June, Iraq announced a first bidding round for long-term contracts for eight big oil and gas fields, which could add a total of 1.5 million barrels per day to the nation's output.

The oil ministry is expected to announce the results of that round by the middle of next year. When all the new fields are fully operational, in theory within six years' time, Iraq's output could be more than 6 million bpd.


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