* To sign initial deals for gas block 8, oil blocks 9, 10
* Iraq has world's fourth-biggest oil reserves
By Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, June 29 Iraq will sign initial
contracts in July with three foreign companies that won deals to
explore oil and gas blocks as it looks to attract more foreign
investment to develop its energy sector following decades of war
and economic sanctions.
The OPEC member is expected to be the world's biggest source
of new oil supplies over the next few years after signing
contracts with international oil companies and plans to open up
more rounds for additional oil and gas blocks for auction.
Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, director of the oil ministry's
contracts and licensing directorate said on Friday a date of
July 15 had been set to sign a deal with Pakistan Petroleum
to explore gas block 8 in Diyala and Wasit provinces in
Iraq will also sign an initial contract with a consortium
led by Kuwait Energy for oil block 9 on July 16 and a deal to
explore oil block 10 will be signed with a group led by Russia's
Lukoil on July 17, he said.
Pakistan Petroleum, Kuwait Energy and Lukoil won their bids
in May at Iraq's fourth energy auction, which had a poor showing
because of tough contract terms drawn up by Baghdad.
Iraq has offered foreign companies less attractive service
agreements - where they are paid a fee - rather than
production-sharing deals that allow them to profit jointly from
"After signing the initial contracts, we will send them to
the cabinet for final approval. After cabinet approves, we will
set a date to sign the final contracts," Ameedi said.
Ameedi has said he also expected that an initial deal with
Russia's Bashneft, which on Thursday was awarded
rights to develop Iraq's oil block 12, would be signed in July.
Iraq is slowly getting back on its feet nine years after the
U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and it
needs foreign investment in virtually every sector to rebuild
its dilapidated infrastructure.
It has already signed major deals with oil giants such as BP
to develop oilfields in the country.