BAGHDAD, March 23 (UPI) -- British energy company BP is one of the top contenders for the rights to explore oil reserves in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a minister said.
Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi had said Baghdad was moving forward with talks about the possible development and rehabilitation of the Kirkuk oil field.
State-run North Oil Co. started limited production of the field after a 2009 licensing round. In February, BP was considering efforts to bring the capacity of the field to around 700,000 barrels per day within five years.
Hussain Gholam, deputy director of the North Oil Co., told Bloomberg News the British energy company was the "most competent" of the companies vying for the right to rehabilitate the Kirkuk oil field.
Production from the field had reached 1.5 million bpd under Saddam Hussein's government.
In May, Iraq is expected to put around a dozen oil and natural gas blocks up for auction in its fourth licensing round. The International Energy Agency has warned political instability in post-war Iraq could dim prospects for the energy sector.