Iraq Will Delay Nassiriyah Decision Until After Licensing Round
By Anthony DiPaola
June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq, holder of the world’s third- largest oil reserves, said talks with producers including Eni SpA to develop the Nassiriyah field will take a backseat until after the country’s first crude licensing round ends this month.
Awarding an engineering contract to develop the deposit is not the government’s priority, Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, deputy director general at the Petroleum Licensing Contracts Department, said by telephone late yesterday.
“We’re not interesting ourselves with that for the time being,” al-Ameedi said. It’s “possible” a decision may be taken next month, after the licensing round concludes, he said.
Iraq aims to attract foreign investors to help boost oil production after six years of conflict and prior sanctions destroyed its infrastructure. The government, running two bidding rounds for oil and gas field development rights, plans to boost output to about 6 million barrels a day by 2015.
The country had expected to award a engineering and procurement contract for Nassiriyah this month, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said in May. The site is set to produce 100,000 barrels a day 18 months after the contract is awarded, the Oil Ministry has said.
Iraq invited Italy’s Eni, Spain’s Repsol YPF SA and Nippon Oil Corp. of Japan to make direct offers to develop Nassiriyah. The government received commercial and technical offers for the field and needs to further discuss terms for developing the deposit with the bidders, al-Ameedi said.
The first licensing round is still on schedule and the government will open offers and name winners of licenses to develop six oil and two natural gas fields in Baghdad June 29 and 30, he said.
Reporter on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai
Last Updated: June 23, 2009 02:58 EDT