FACTBOX: Over 70 firms register for Iraq oil contracts

Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:13am EST

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(Reuters) - More than 70 companies have registered to compete for oil extraction and service contracts to help develop Iraq's oil reserves, the world's third largest.

The country, currently producing around 2.3 million barrels per day, is seeking major foreign investment to tap into its massive reserves and significantly boost output.

Big oil firms such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP have been positioning for years to gain access and signed up for the register in advance of Monday's deadline.

The oil ministry will announce which companies it has accepted as qualified to bid for future contracts in March.

OPEC member Iraq holds 115 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves, surpassed only by Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The following is a timetable set by the central government in choosing which oil firms will help develop Iraq's oil infrastructure, according to Iraq's oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani. Following the table are a list of companies that have already registered for tenders and those that have said they were interested in registering.

India's Reliance has said it would register even though it has signed contracts with Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region, angering Baghdad. Iraq's central government has threatened to bar oil companies from contracts in the rest of the country if they have signed deals with the Kurdish region.

Feb 18 - Deadline for foreign oil companies to register to bid for new contracts.

March - The government will announce its list of pre-qualified companies.

April - Iraq announces the oil fields available for the bidding process.

Around July - Deadline for companies to submit bids.

July-Sept - Contract negotiations begin between the central government and oil companies.

End of 2008/early 2009 - Government announces the winners of the bidding round.

COMPANIES THAT HAVE SIGNED UP

BP

ConocoPhillips

ONGC

Royal Dutch Shell

Repsol

COMPANIES THAT HAVE SAID THEY WOULD SIGN UP

Exxon

Reliance

Statoil Hydro

Total

(Reporting by Randy Fabi and Simon Webb; editing by James Jukwey)

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