March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq’s Oil Ministry will issue the final draft contracts for the next round of energy-exploration rights on April 20, the director-general of the licensing department said.
Companies that were preselected to bid in the two-day May 30 licensing round have until tomorrow to comment on the preliminary drafts, Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi said in an interview in Baghdad today.
The licensing round has been repeatedly delayed to allow more time for companies to make remarks and changes so that the agreements are more attractive for investments.
Iraq has awarded 15 oil and natural-gas licenses to foreign companies since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted President Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Arab nation is the third-largest oil producer in OPEC and seeks to develop natural gas to help generate electricity.
Iraq is auctioning 12 exploration areas, seven for oil and five for gas, according to the ministry. They contain 29 billion cubic meters of gas and 10 billion barrels of crude, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said in March. Forty-six companies have qualified for the bidding, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, and Total SA.
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