UPI Energy Watch

July 2, 2008 at 3:55 PM
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Iraq opened international bidding for eight oil and gas fields.

The move is set to pave the way for major investments in the nation, home to some of the world's largest petroleum reserves, the New Zealand Herald reported.

If the contracts are approved, they could lead to the biggest foreign stake in Iraq since the industry was nationalized more than 30 years ago.

Some have said, however, there is concern that the foreseen dominant role for Western firms could feed perceptions that the Iraq war was at least, in part, about oil.

The short-term, no-bid contracts were announced with five Western oil firms for technical consulting, including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron and Total.

But Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said Iraq was still negotiating with the companies, because while the firms are demanding a share of oil production, Iraq insists on paying in cash.

The minister said the short-term contracts were to boost oil production until the government awards longer-term deals next year.

Al-Shahristani said the companies would be invited to bid on the oil fields of Rumeila, Zubair, Qurna West, Maysan, Kirkuk and Bay Hassan; and the natural gas fields of Akkaz and Mansouriyah.

"These fields were chosen because their production can be raised in a short time and at a low cost," said al-Shahristani.

India will sign an agreement with Cuba.

The two will reportedly cooperate in the oil and gas sectors, according to an official statement.

India will also look at investment opportunities in new refinery projects in the Latin American country, The Economic Times reported.

The two countries have finalized the India Cuba Hydrocarbon Agreement, which is expected to be signed by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora during his visit to Cuba. The signing could coincide with the spudding of oil wells by ONGC Videsh in its exploration block in the country.

OVL has also acquired interests in nine exploration blocks in Cuba. The contracts for these blocks were signed in 2006.

Cuban Minister of Basic Industry Yadira Garcia Vera in Spain has invited Indian companies to invest in the new refinery project coming up on the west coast of Cuba, with a capacity of 150,000 barrels a day.

India also talks with Iran and Colombia on cooperation.

The three nations reportedly held wide-ranging bilateral talks on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress in Madrid, Spain, The Economic Times reported.

The talks focused on further enhancing cooperation in various activities in the hydrocarbon value chain. India's Murli Deora, minister of petroleum and natural gas, and his Iranian counterpart, Gholamhossein Nozari, met and Iran conveyed its optimism on implementation of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.

Nozari said that Iran was open to considering India's proposal to change the point of gas delivery from Iran-Pakistan border to Pakistan-India border.

Deora reiterated New Delhi's commitment to speedy implementation of the IPI pipeline project and said that delivery point issue will be soon discussed with Iran.

Earlier, in a meeting with Colombian Minister of Mines and Energy Hernan Martinez Torres, Deora proposed ONGC's participation in improving oil recovery from the existing fields in Colombia.


Closing oil prices, July 2, 3 p.m., London

Brent crude oil: $143.01

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $142.49


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