ConocoPhillips: Working with Oil Ministry on Iraq Field Plan
HOUSTON Mar 14, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)
ConocoPhillips (COP) is working with the Iraq Oil Ministry and Russia's OAO Lukoil Holdings (LKOH.RS) on a development plan for the West Qurna field, a ConocoPhillips executive said Wednesday.
"We're doing a lot of work with the ministry and Lukoil on developing" a plan for West Qurna, Bill Berry, executive vice president for ConocoPhillips, said at a meeting with analysts that was Webcast from New York.
Iraqi officials have developed a draft petroleum law that could allow foreign participation in the oil sector, but oil company officials have said the proposal still leaves unresolved key questions amid continued strife in the war-torn nation.
Appearing in Vienna for a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iraq's oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani said Wednesday he has been in discussions with European oil giants Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) and Total S.A. (TOT) over developing the country's vast oil resources, adding that he expects a handful of projects to be put up for bidding later this year.
Shahristani said West Qurna would be put under responsibility of the new Iraq national oil company, and Lukoil would have as much chance of gaining the contract as anyone else.
Despite the minister's upbeat expectations, leaders of the countries' various religious groups are still divided on nailing down how and what level of participation foreign companies will be given.
Bush administration officials and Iraqi politicians have hailed the draft law, which won cabinet approval late last month, as a milestone in the country's attempted comeback.
But oil-company executives have said the legislation is still too ambiguous to trigger any meaningful negotiations between companies and government officials.
Lukoil was granted some development rights for West Qurna by the regime under Saddam Hussein, but the status of those rights has been in limbo since the dictator's overthrow.
Under a strategic partnership deal, Lukoil agreed to give ConocoPhillips a stake in a field development project in the event that the Russian major was able to retain its rights to West Qurna.
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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