Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Iraq invites energy companies to develop major gasfield

Mansuriya gasfield near the Iranian border in the eastern Diyala province holds 4.5 trillion cubic feet in reserves

An aerial view of Al Dora oil refinery in Baghdad, Iraq, July 11, 2020. Reuters
An aerial view of Al Dora oil refinery in Baghdad, Iraq, July 11, 2020. Reuters

Iraq is poised to offer international energy companies the rights to a major gasfield in a new bidding round, the country’s oil minister said on Thursday.

The plan is part of Iraq's efforts to develop vast natural gas resources amid pressures from the US administration to wean itself from Iranian imports.

In a statement, Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said Iraq had sent invitations to a number of international companies to take part in the coming bidding round for the Mansuriya gasfield near the Iranian border in the eastern Diyala province.

Mr Abdul Jabbar didn’t give more details on which companies were invited and the time frame for the bidding round.

The field, which holds 4.5 trillion cubic feet in reserves, was awarded in a 2010 bidding round to a consortium led by Turkish Petroleum Corp, known as TPAO. The deal was then signed in 2011.

But the group, which included Korea’s Gas Corp (KOGAS) and Kuwait Energy, suspended the work due to the 2014 ISIS onslaught that left huge areas of western and northern Iraq under the control of the extremist group.

The field didn’t fall in the hands of the militants, but was located in a volatile area.

After defeating ISIS, the consortium failed to restart the work despite requests from Iraq, prompting the Ministry of Oil to cancel the deal in 2018.

The Oil Ministry “will pick up the new partner that will present the best technical solutions” to develop the field, Mr Abdul Jabbar added.

On Tuesday, the Chairman and chief executive officer of French oil major Total, Patrick Pouyanne, met Iraqi Prime Minister and Oil Minister and discussed the possibility of joining gas, refining and petrochemical projects in the country.

After the meeting, the Oil Ministry said both sides discussed developing the fields of Mansuriya and Akkas, near the Syrian border which was also awarded to Kogas in 2010 until they withdrew for the same security reasons.

Iraq depends on importing Iranian gas and electricity to bridge the gap between supply and demand in power – especially during summer. The country buys 1,200MW from Iran and natural gas to generate 2,800MW, making up nearly one third of electricity needs.

The US administration has been pressing Iraqis to stop importing from Iran and to develop national natural resources instead to comply with its sanctions.

But the US has been granting Iraq sanction waivers to enable it to continue importing from Iran until it is able to be self-sufficient. The latest waiver was issued early last month and runs for 60 days.

Updated: October 15, 2020 04:26 PM

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