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Iraq delays gas bid round until October

by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Aug 2, 2010
Iraq has delayed until October a tender to develop three gas fields with estimated reserves that total about 11 trillion cubic feet (317 billion cubic metres), an oil ministry spokesman said Monday.

"A presentation on the gas fields has been taking place in Istanbul on Sunday and Monday to answer the questions of the competing companies, and the tender should now be held at the beginning of October," Assem Jihad told AFP, without giving the new date.

"This is to give the companies more time to study the contracts," he added.

Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani on May 6 invited international energy firms to submit bids for the gas fields, the third major tender aimed at developing the war-torn country's oil and gas sectors, which he said at the time would be held on September 1.

He said 45 companies that had taken part in the two previous oil bid rounds would be eligible to compete and that the contracts on offer would again be service agreements, under which Baghdad pays the foreign company fixed fees based on production quotas rather than a share of profits based on sales.

"The reason behind offering these fields is Iraq's increasing need to feed the electricity stations, because Iraq is suffering from a chronic lack of electricity," Shahristani said in May.

Iraq currently produces a negligible quantity of gas compared with the size of its reserves, and flares off most of what comes out with its crude output as it lacks the capture technology needed to use the gas for power generation.

Of the three gas fields on offer, Akkaz is the biggest field. Some 50 kilometres (30 miles) long and 18 kilometres wide, it lies west of Baghdad in Anbar province and contains 5.6 tcf (158 bcm).

The second field, Mansuriyah, is located in Diyala province, 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Baghdad, and has reserves of 4.5 tcf (127 bcm).

Both Akkaz and Mansuriyah -- in provinces where the authorities have been combatting insurgents -- were offered in Iraq's first bid round on June 30, but not awarded.

The third gas field on offer is Siba, located in the southern province of Basra near the borders of Iran and Kuwait. It has reserves of 1.1 tcf (31 bcm).

The planned gas bid round follows the signing of contracts last year with foreign firms to develop 10 oil fields across Iraq, aimed at raising crude output, currently 2.4 million barrels per day, to between 10 to 12 million bpd.

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