Iraq Oil Min: 35 Of 120 Cos Qualified To Bid For Deals

AMMAN, April 14, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Thirty-five international oil companies are qualified to bid for future oil and gas contracts to develop one of the world's largest oil fields, an Iraqi oil ministry statement said Sunday.

"The total number of the companies and consortia that participated in the pre-qualification process was 120 from various nationalities," the ministry's petroleum contracts and Licensing Office said.

The office listed 35 companies, which it said were "Qualified IOCs". They include, among others, BP PLC, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Lukoil Holdings, China National Petroleum Corp., Edison International SpA and Eni SpA.

The contracts office, however, said it would continue updating the process of qualifying companies "especially those that didn't pass (the qualification process) by updating their information with the view to allowing as many as possible of the IOCs to participate in the next licensing round."

Seven U.S. companies are qualified to bid for Iraq's oil fields development. They are Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chevron, ConocoPhilips, ExxonMobil, Hess Corp., Marathon International Petroleum Ltd., and Occidental Petroleum Corp.. Three U.K. companies are qualified to bid for Iraqi oil fields: BP Group PLC, BG International, and Premier Oil PLC, the statement said.

From Japan, Inpex Holdings Inc., Japex, Mitsubishi Corp. and Nippon Oil Corp. are qualified, it added.

The other companies are Australia's BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd., China's CNOOC Ltd., CNPC Ltd., Sinochem International Co. Ltd., and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical co. Ltd., Italy's Edison International SPA and Eni, Russia's Lukoil, JSC Gazprom Neft, France's Total, South Korea's Korea Gas Corp., Spain's Repsol YPF SA, Norway's Statoil Hydro ASA, Netherlands' Shell, Germany's Wintershall Basf Group, Canada's Nexen Inc. (International Oil & Gas Nexen Inc.), Denmark's Maersk, India's ONGC, Malaysia's Petronas Gas BHD and Indonesia's Pertamina.

The ministry announcement said that these companies "can participate in the coming licensing round for planned oil and gas fields which will be announced in due time."

Iraq is planning to issue the first round of tenders to develop some of its prized oil fields during the second quarter of this year, according to the country's oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani.

The ministry has excluded companies which have signed deals with the Kurdish semiautonomous rule from the ministry's list from taking part in Iraq's oil fields development.

Kurdish authorities have signed contracts, mostly production-sharing agreements, with around 20 international companies to develop oil and gas fields in their region. These deals have angered the federal oil ministry in Baghdad, which has declared them illegal and said foreign companies who signed these contracts would be blacklisted.

Among companies which signed deals with the Kurds are Norway-based Det Norske Oljeselskap SAA, U.S.-based Calibre Energy Inc., Canada's Addax Petroleum Corp., South Korea's SK Energy Co. Ltd., Austria's OMV AG, India's Reliance Energy Ltd., and subsidiaries of Canada's Heritage Oil Corp. and France's Perenco SA.

Iraq is currently tendering technical support agreements, or TSAs, that will help increase production in the country's largest oil fields by 500,000 barrels a day. Iraq is currently producing around 2.4 million barrels a day.

The ministry had asked international oil companies to register with the newly set up Contracts and Licensing Office of the Ministry early January and set Feb. 18 as the final day for receiving registration documentation. It said only qualified firms can bid for tenders to develop Iraq's vast oil reserves, the third-largest in the world.

AMMAN, April 14, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

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