Iraq awards Rumaila drilling deals worth $500 mln

KUWAIT, March 31 Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:50am EDT

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KUWAIT, March 31 (Reuters) - Iraq, along with oil major BP Plc (BP.L) and its Chinese partner CNPC have awarded nearly $500 million worth of new drilling contracts for the giant Rumaila oilfield, a government official said on Wednesday.

Iraq awarded contracts to drill 49 new wells each valued at around $10 million, Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, director of the Oil Ministry's licensing office told Reuters.

Chinese firm Daqing and a joint venture between Schlumberger Ltd (SLB.N) and the state-owned Iraq Drilling Company are being awarded contracts to drill 21 new wells respectively, while Weatherford International Ltd (WFT.N) was awarded with 7 new wells, Ameedi said.

There were originally 56 new wells up for grabs, he said.

"The remaining seven wells we have left for later once we review the performance of the contractors," he said.

Iraq, in desperate need for cash to rebuild its battered economy after years of war and sanctions, has struck a series of development contracts with global oil majors that could also signal a bonanza for international oil service companies. (Reporting by Rania el-Gamal; editing by James Jukwey)

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