February 21, 2008 / 12:38 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Shell says Iraq oil law proceeding slowly

(Adds background)

BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) hopes Iraq will pass an oil law this year and sees this and improved security as prerequisites for being able to work there, CEO Jeroen van der Veer said on Thursday.

“You need basically two green lights before you can work...first of all you have to know the rules of the game,” van der Veer told a security conference in Brussels.

He told an Iraqi questioner he hoped the oil law would be passed this year “but it doesn’t go very fast.”

If this and the security requirement were met, then companies like Shell could create a “win-win situation” in Iraq, “but it needs those two conditions.”

Major oil companies have been vying for years to gain access to Iraq’s reserves, the world’s third-largest and among the cheapest to produce.

Iraq gave firms until Feb. 18 to submit documents that would allow them to compete in tenders for service contracts to help develop its oil infrastructure.

Shell is one of the firms that have entered the process along with Spanish energy company Repsol (REP.MC) and BP (BP.L).

U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil XON.N and France’s Total (TOTF.PA) are among firms that have said they are interested in signing up to the process. [nL18146277]

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

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

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