Iraq Mulls Restoring Pre-War Russian Contracts

MOSCOW (Dow Jones Newswires), April 10, 2009

Iraq is to consider restoring lucrative contracts won by Russian companies before the 2003 war that ousted Saddam Hussein, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Friday.

"We agreed in principle to establish the task of restoring contracts concluded in the pre-war period between Russian and Iraqi companies," Shmatko said.

"I consider this to be very big progress," he added, following talks between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki.

Shmatko said that a "special working group" would be set up between the two countries in this regard. He didn't say what contracts could be reactivated.

Russia's biggest private oil firm Lukoil Holdings (LKOH.RS) in 1997 signed a $3.4-billion contract to explore the West Qurna 2 oilfield, but was expelled even before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion because of disagreements with Saddam's regime.

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.