BAGHDAD — The British company BP and the Chinese company CNPC won a contract to develop Rumaila, one of the six largest Iraqi gas and oil fields made available to foreign companies for investment during the auction held in Baghdad June 30. Analysts say it is likely BP and CNPC will start working there before the end of this month.
During ceremonies at the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki addressed security concerns by saying that the government will provide security protection, guarantees on investments and the facilities necessary to ensure success.
More than 32 companies, including the two giant U.S. and European companies ExxonMobil and Shell, along with companies from China, India and other Asian states, seized the opportunity to obtain 20-year service contracts. The bid by BP and CNPC to win the Rumaila field, however, was the only offer accepted by the Iraqi government.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Oil added that any contracts signed and any licences granted would be subject to review by the ministry for approval and confirmation.
Foreign firms have sought access to Iraq’s vast domains of gas and oil ever since former President Saddam Hussein nationalised the oil sector and excluded foreign companies 30 years ago. The oil industry in Iraq suffered from neglect and sanctions thereafter. Iraq is hoping that foreign investment will provide the expertise necessary to raise the level of production and launched a crucial licencing round aimed to support efforts of post-war reconstruction of the country.
The auction was televised as international oil companies were invited to place bids on six oil fields and two natural gas fields.
Sources: Al-Jazeera / Al-Sharq Al-Awsat