BAGHDAD, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A deal to process natural gas flared off from oil fields in southern Iraq marks a new era in the country's recovering energy sector, an executive at Shell said.
Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi signed a $17 billion deal with Iraq to process natural gas at oil fields in southern Iraq for the next 25 years, the Guardian newspaper in London reports.
Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser was quoted as saying the deal marked a "new chapter" in Iraq's natural gas sector. Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi was quoted as saying the deal was "historic."
Shell had pulled out of oil talks with the Kurdish government in Iraq to focus on natural gas developments near Iraq's southern regions. Baghdad was upset with its Kurdish counterparts and its dealings with major international energy companies like Shell.
Shell takes a 44 percent interest in a joint company formed to develop southern oil and gas fields. Baghdad takes a controlling interest while Mitsubishi would hold the remaining 5 percent stake.
Iraq has the fourth-largest deposits of natural gas in the world though parts of the country don't have around-the-clock electricity.