Iraq's oil ministry invites companies to bid on oil, gas development projects
Associated Press
Published: Sunday March 23, 2008

Print This  Email This

BAGHDAD: Iraq's Oil Ministry said Sunday that it has invited local and international oil companies to bid for contracts including one to develop a natural gas field in a Sunni area in the west of the country.

The ministry has set a deadline of April 24 for companies to submit detailed plans to help develop the Akkas gas field, located in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Anbar province, the ministry said on its Web site.

The Akkas field has estimated reserves of more than 2.15 trillion cubic feet (60 billion cubic meters).

Most of the country's vast petroleum wealth is located in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. Development of the Akkas field could boost the economy in Sunni areas, where support for the government remains tenuous.

Companies interested in submitting a detailed design, which would include a procurement of all equipment and required materials for the western province's Akkas gas field, must meet the ministry's deadline of April 24, the ministry said on its Web site.

Early this year, the ministry said it was negotiating with Royal Dutch Shell PLC to conduct output tests for the field which has five wells that are ready to be interconnected.

It could produce up to 50 million cubic feet a day as a first stage which could be increased to 500 million cubic feet a day at later stages that planned be pumped through Syria to consumers in Europe.

In a separate tender, the ministry has also invited companies to submit detailed engineering study and procurement of equipment and materials of two oil pipelines linking the Basra oil fields in southern Iraq with Iran's Abadan refinery.

The project's aim is to export crude oil and import multi-products through Shatt-al-Arab waterway, the ministry said.

Offers must be submitted no later than 0900 GMT of April 24.

Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani earlier said the crude pipeline would pump some 100,000 barrels a day of Basra Light to Iran, Dow Jones Newswires reported. Basra crude would be sold to Iran in accordance with international oil prices, he added.

When the two countries signed the agreement last year, they didn't spell out costs of the two pipelines, which will each be between 50 kilometers and 75 kilometers long. However, they said the two pipelines would be financed by a $1 billion loan granted by Tehran to Baghdad earlier this year.

Iraq has the world's third-largest oil reserves with an estimated 115 billion barrels, and also sits on an estimated 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.