Iraq invites international energy companies to bid for 3 natural gas fields, sets date

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Iraq puts 3 natural gas fields up for bid

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s oil minister on Thursday invited international energy companies to bid for contracts to develop three untapped natural gas fields.

Hussain al-Shahristani expressed confidence in international interest in the fields, saying that 45 companies with experience in gas projects will submit their offers in the country’s third energy bidding round, set for Sept. 1.

“We have indications that there is renewed interest among companies to compete for these fields,” he said in a press conference.

The Akkas gas field near the border with Syria has estimated reserves of 5.6 trillion cubic feet and was originally offered in Iraq’s first round of bidding. It only garnered a single offer, which was declined.

Mansouriya gas field, with reserves of 4.5 trillion cubic feet, is located in the once restive province of Diyala north of Baghdad and received no bids in the round.

The smaller Siba field, with 1.1 trillion cubic feet of reserves and near the border with Kuwait, will be offered up for the first time.

The 45 companies, which are pre-qualified from previous rounds, will be bidding for service contracts, which involve flat fee payments rather than the more lucrative production sharing contracts preferred by international energy companies.

Iraq awarded 10 oil deals to Western companies in two bidding rounds last year. The country has an estimated 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

Al-Shahristani also said a multibillion-dollar joint venture deal with Shell to harvest associated natural gas from three oil fields in the south has been submitted to the cabinet’s energy committee for approval.

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