Iraq says to make gas exploration deals more lucrative

BAGHDAD: Iraq will make future energy exploration contracts more lucrative in a bid to lure a greater number of foreign firms to auctions for exploration blocks, a spokesman said on Sunday.

The concessions come after the country held a disappointing auction for oil and gas exploration blocks in May in which a dozen plots of unexplored territory were offered up, but only four contracts awarded.

"We will give more concessions to foreign companies," oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP. "We want to encourage the companies to develop our gas fields.

"Economic and financial aspects will be reviewed in light of our experiences. The final details of the contracts will be worked out between the foreign companies and the oil ministry."

Last month, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs Hussein al-Shahritani said officials were carrying out "a study in the ministry of oil to improve the model of contract to make it more attractive for oil companies."

He admitted that the May auction was "not successful" because the contracts were "very tough."

Iraq has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of oil and 3.2 trillion cubic metres (111.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas, both of which are among the highest such deposits in the world.

Along with ramping up oil production, the country is keen to increase gas extraction to help boost its low levels of electricity output.





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