04/15/2008, 00.00
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Iraq opens oil fields to 35 foreign companies

Oil ministry releases list of companies allowed to bid for service and production contracts; it includes some of the majors like Exxon, Chevron and Total. Companies that struck deals with the Kurdistan government are excluded.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iraq will allow 35 foreign companies to bid for oil and gas projects in its rich oil fields. The Iraqi Oil Ministry yesterday announced the list of possible contenders out of 120 applicants.

Iraq’s oil reserves are the third largest in the world and need billions of dollars in investments to be exploited after years of embargo and the ravages of war.

BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, which had been negotiating with the government in Baghdad for months, are among the lucky winners. Others mentioned on the ministry’s website are Conoco Phillips, Russia’s LUKOIL, Spain’s Repsol, Australia’s BHP Billiton, Italy’s Gruppo Edison and the Korea Gas Corp.

Consortia and companies that signed oil contracts with the Kurdish government were excluded. For Baghdad these contracts are illegal.

Tensions between Arbil and Baghdad delayed by more than a year the presentation of the oil bill to parliament.

As a short term measure Iraq will assign short term contracts for oil production and service contracts to increase output.

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