Iraq invites energy contractors

Iraq is inviting bids from contractors to drill seven new oil wells and complete work on four natural gas wells.

Iraqi police officers protect an oil pipeline in the Rumailah refinery, north of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city.
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BAGHDAD // Iraq is inviting bids from contractors to drill seven new oil wells and complete work on four natural gas wells. The Oil Ministry says contractors have until Sept 15 to submit bids to drill in the East Baghdad oil field. Today's statement says bids to complete four gas wells in the Akkas gas field in western Iraq will be accepted until September 30. Reserves in the East Baghdad oil field are estimated to be at least 5 billion barrels. Its prewar production was 50,000 barrels per day, but it has not been operational since 2003.

The Akkas gas field has estimated reserves of more than 2.15 trillion cubic feet. Iraq's Northern Oil Company says it will field questions from bidders at meetings in mid-August at its headquarters in the northern city of Kirkuk. In June, the Iraqi oil minister Hussain al Shahristani announced that Iraq was inviting foreign companies to bid for long-term contracts to develop eight oil fields and two gas fields, including Akkas and those in East Baghdad.

The announcement was seen as clearing the way for major international investment in rebuilding the country's petroleum sector. Other oil fields available for bidding include Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna fields in the southeastern province of Basra. In the neighbouring Maysan province, on the border with Iran, the Bazargan, Abu Gharab and Fakka fields are up for bids, as well as the northern Kirkuk and Bai Hassan fields.

The two gas fields, Akkas and Mansuriyah, are respectively in western and northeastern Iraq. *AP with files from The National