Iraq starts licensing round prequalification process

Iraq's Oil Ministry has invited international oil companies to submit applications for a prequalification process ahead of the country's planned oil licensing round.

Jan 3rd, 2008

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3 -- Iraq's Oil Ministry has invited international oil companies to submit applications for a prequalification process ahead of the country's planned oil licensing round.

The Ministry said the process would help to identify those companies that are qualified to work in the country, with only qualified and selected groups to be invited to participate in competitive bidding later.

The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31. Names of qualified companies will be published after this date.

The timing of the licensing round itself remains unclear, however, with the ministry only indicating that tenders for oil extraction and service contracts in southern, central, and northern Iraq would be issued "soon."

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan region, held a round of talks on Jan. 2 to discus pending issues between the central government and the government of the Kurdistan region.

High on the agenda of their talks were the oil contracts that the Kurdistan region government has signed.

An Iraqi spokesman said President Jalal Talabani and al-Maliki signed an agreement specifying that all signed contracts should be subject to the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution and that the government of the Kurdistan region should delay signing anything related to oil contracts.

Concerning the signing of oil contracts, Mahmud Uthman, a member of the Kurdistan Alliance, told London's Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that, "If the two sides do not agree on this issue, they will refer it to the Supreme (Federal) Court to look into it and decide whether these contracts are legal or illegal."

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

More in Exploration & Development