BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government opened six oil fields to international bidding Monday as the nation attempts to boost daily production by 60 percent.
The potential participation of big Western companies like BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total SA in Iraq's oil industry has been criticized in recent weeks following published reports that several were close to signing no-bid contracts with the Iraqi government.
Those contracts were expected to be announced Monday, but Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani instead named 35 companies that would be qualified to bid on service contracts for the oil fields of Rumeila, Zubair, Qurna West, Maysan, Kirkuk and Bay Hassan.
"These fields were chosen because their production can be raised in a short time and at a low cost," said al-Shahristani.
All of the fields are currently producing oil, and al-Shahristani said the new contracts would raise Iraq's production by 1.5 million barrels per day. Iraq currently produces 2.5 million barrels per day and hopes to raise that to 4.5 million by 2013.
Greater oil production is key to rebuilding Iraq's devastated infrastructure and delivering energy to the country.
But the lack of security and the absence of a new legislation to manage the industry have hampered development of the oil industry.
More at the Huffington Post
After reading through the article, this portion still didnt' set right with me:
Times also reported that a small U.S. State Department team helped draw up contracts between the Oil Ministry and the five major oil companies. The newspaper quoted a senior State Department official as saying the team provided technical support to an understaffed Iraqi ministry
So, what were the "qualifications" that the comapanies had ot meet?
Is the fact that these contracts are to go into effect after the exeunt of the Bush Administration have anything to do with this?
How is this news going to effect the price of oil now? Are speculators going to leap on this news?
Questions. Questions. Questions that I don't have the answers to.