Iraq to Auction 15 Blocks Once Oil Law is Final

NEW DELHI, May 23, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Iraq plans to auction 15 crude oil and natural gas blocks to international oil companies once the country's long-delayed hydrocarbons law becomes final, an Iraq oil official said Wednesday.

"We are preparing a plan for 15 fields and blocks for the first round of auctioning after the approval of the new oil and gas law," Fayadh Hassan Nima, director general of studies and planning in the Iraq oil ministry told reporters here on the sidelines of an industry event.

Iraq plans to invite Indian oil companies to build two refineries each with a capacity of 100,000 barrels a day, Nima said, without elaborating on which companies might be invited.

Nima was speaking ahead of a planned visit by Iraq's oil minister to India scheduled to start Friday.

Iraq's hydrocarbons law has been delayed for several months and many analysts believe lawmakers will miss an end-May deadline to have the legislation approved and signed by the Iraqi parliament as Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq continue to fail to come to agreement on a number of issues, including method for distributing oil revenues.

Iraq currently has 750,000 barrels a day of refining capacity and the country plans to double this capacity in the next 10 years, Nima said.

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