UPDATE: Iraq Oil Minister Says No Delay for Shell Gas Deal

Contrary to statements made earlier this week by certain ministry officials, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said Wednesday that the country has no intentions of putting a multibillion dollar agreement with Royal Dutch Shell on the back burner.

Al-Shahristani affirmed that Iraq's agreement with Shell to develop gas infrastructure in the southern region of the country will not be postponed until the general elections held in January 2010.

According to the minister, who said "No" when asked about plans to delay the deal until next year, Iraq is "negotiating with Shell."