Iraq, Exxon to Sign Final Deal for W.Qurna Jan 25

Source: Reuters 1/18/2010, Location: Middle East

Iraq and a group led by U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil will sign a final deal for the development of the 8.7-billion barrel West Qurna Phase One oilfield on Jan. 25, an Iraqi Oil Ministry official said.

The Exxon Mobil-led consortium won the right to develop the supergiant oilfield in negotiations last year with the ministry following the country's June oilfield auction, the first since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Exxon and its partners on Monday agreed to proposed contract amendments submitted by the Oil Ministry, paving the way for a final deal, said Sabah Abdul Kadhim, the head of the legal section of Iraq's Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate.

"We both signed on to the amendments and the Oil Ministry set the 25th of this month to sign the final contract to develop West Qurna Phase One with Exxon Mobil," Kadhim said.

Progress on the agreement to boost output from the large oilfield to 2.325 million barrels per day from 279,000 bpd now came as the Oil Ministry signed a final contract with Malaysia's Petronas and Japan Exploration Co to develop the smaller Gharaf oilfield.

Gharaf, a field with estimated reserves of 900 million barrels, was won by Petronas and Japex in a fierce competition in Iraq's December auction of oil contracts, the second since the U.S. invasion.

The deals emerging as a result of the two tenders last year have the potential to take Iraqi capacity to 12 million barrels per day - rivalling top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia - from 2.5 million bpd now.


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