Old Iraq oil deals "all canceled," ministry spokesman says

April 21, 2008 at 5:03 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- All of the oil deals signed by Saddam Hussein have been "canceled" and the companies must bid for the fields again, the Iraq Oil Ministry spokesman says.

This appears to be a change in policy, as the ministry had said that four deals still carried legal weight and, although they'd have to be brought in line with the new law, would still be honored.

"The old contracts that were signed during Saddam's era are all canceled," Assem Jihad told United Press International in a telephone interview. "If any of these contracts are to be renewed they would have to suit the new requirements of the new oil law that will be approved soon."

Iraq had contracts with ONGC of India, CNPC of China, Pertamina of Indonesia and PetroVietnam that were considered valid and were reportedly under negotiation.

Iraq is relying on Saddam-era oil regulations while the draft new oil law is under debate. The ministry short-listed 35 companies of 120 that applied for pre-qualification in an upcoming bidding round. Jihad would not say which oil and gas fields would be put to tender in the round, but the list is expected to be announced soon.

"All companies will have to internationally compete to offer better bids that would bring more interest to the Iraqi economy. All of these contracts from these companies will be reviewed by the Ministry of Oil," Jihad said. "We, at the Ministry of Oil, assure that no contract yet is signed with any company to invest or develop whatsoever."


Ben Lando, UPI Energy Editor

(e-mail: blando@upi.com)

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