Firms Chasing Iraq Oil Contracts on 'Level Field'

Dow Jones Newswires

BAGHDAD (AFP), Jun. 19, 2009

All foreign energy companies bidding for contracts to develop Iraq's oil fields are on a "level playing field," Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said Friday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a religious conference in central Baghdad, he insisted none of the 31 companies bidding for contracts had any advantage.

"We have not selected any companies," he said.

"No company has any advantage. They are all playing the same game on a level playing field. They are all submitting their bids, their offers, at the same time."

Shahristani added that all companies that had submitted tenders have been invited to the unveiling of the list of firms selected on June 29 and 30.

Some 31 companies are competing for contracts to operate six major oilfields and two major gas fields.

According to the Web site, the pre-selected firms comprise 11 Asian businesses, nine European, seven North American, two Australian and two Russian. Four companies have withdrawn from the process.

Although only eight contracts will be awarded, energy firms could join forces to develop some fields.

The new contracts would potentially increase Iraq's production levels by 1.5 million barrels a day, from 2.4 million barrels a day.

Although Iraq has the world's third largest proven reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia and Iran, development of the conflict-ravaged country's fields has been very slow.  

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