Oil and Gas

Shell in gas field talks with Iraqi government

LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Iraqi government has asked Royal Dutch Shell Plc RDSa.L to conduct tests on a gas field close to the Syrian border, which could lead to the oil major taking a stake in the field, a Shell spokesman said on Wednesday.

Shell has been asked to conduct a “long-term production test” on the Akkas field, the spokesman said.

The results of the test will allow the government to better ascertain the size and quality of the reservoir -- information which would help if it decides to invite bids from companies to develop the field.

The experience Shell gleans from the test would also help it in any bidding round.

UK newspaper The Times reported on Wednesday that French oil major Total SA TOTF.PA was also vying to develop the Akkas field. Total was unavailable for comment.

Starved of access to the richest oil and gas prospects in the world by governments who increasingly favour development by their state oil companies, Western oil companies are eager to invest in Iraq.

However, the security situation and an uncertain legal framework deter the majors from making significant investments. (Reporting by Tom Bergin in London and Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris)