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Tue 24 Feb 2009 09:22 PM

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Scramble for Iraq energy contracts

Government confirms submissions from 38 international energy companies for second round of bidding.

Iraq has received submissions from 38 international energy companies looking to qualify for a second round of bidding for contracts to work on some of its prized oil and gas fields, an Iraqi oil official said on Tuesday.Iraq will decide by the end of March which of those companies have qualified, said Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, deputy director general at Iraq's petroleum contracts and licensing directorate.

"Some of the companies applied last time but didn't qualify, some are new," Ameedi said.

Iraq announced a second-bidding round for oil and gas fields at the end of December, naming 11 fields it would open up for bidding for service contracts.

Some 35 companies qualified in the first bidding round after around 120 applied, and 32 were still in the race for deals.

The first bidding round was announced in June for 8 oil and gas fields.

The fields announced in the second round could increase oil production by up to 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in a few years, Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said when he announced the tenders.

That is about equal to what Iraq, which has the world's third largest oil reserves, currently pumps.

The fields announced in the first round could provide another 1.5 million bpd in additional output. The oil ministry was expected to announce the winners of the first round by the middle of this year, while contracts for the second round would be finalised by the end of 2009. (Reuters)

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