Iraq to Invite Bids for Nassiriya Field This Year

(Dow Jones Newswires), Jan. 11, 2011

Iraq plans to hold a licensing auction later this year to award the giant Nassiriya oil field to international oil companies, the country's Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani told a visiting Japanese minister of trade and industry, the state-run al-Iraqia television said Tuesday.

"Prequalified Japanese companies will be invited to develop the field, along with other interested firms," Shahristani said during a joint news conference with Japan's trade minister Akihiro Ohata.

The Japanese minister called on the Iraqi government to resume negotiations with a group of Japanese firms to develop the Nassiriya oil field, Kyodo news agency said, quoting Japanese officials.

In August 2009, a Japanese consortium led by Nippon Oil Corp., which has since become JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., reached an accord in principle with the Iraqi government for rights to develop the Nassiriya oil field.

But negotiations have effectively been suspended, partly because of the national parliamentary election Iraq held in March 2010. Baghdad then said the talks reached a dead end and the ministry of oil would develop the field relying on its own resources.

Japan relied on the Middle East for around 90% of its crude oil imports in fiscal 2008, according to the fiscal 2009 annual energy report.

Nassiriya, which has oil reserves estimated at more than 4.4 billion barrels, is producing around 10,000 barrels a day.

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