Iraq oil contract bids politically risky

June 28, 2009 at 12:11 PM
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BAGHDAD, June 28 (UPI) -- Iraq is preparing to accept bids from multinational oil companies for access to its oil fields, sparking apprehension among many, analysts say.

In a politically risky move, the country's oil ministry is expected to auction eight contracts for six active oil fields and two largely undeveloped gas fields this week, as critics both foreign and domestic contend the process is too favorable to giant oil companies, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Analysts told the newspaper companies that succeed in getting picked in this week's first round of auctions are also most likely to be chosen for more lucrative contracts in the future, which worries critics who say Iraq should rebuild its crippled oil infrastructure on its own.

"There is a majority opinion inside parliament that opposes these bids," Iraqi member of Parliament Alia Nusaif told the Post, saying the government needs to give lawmakers more time to probe the contracts. "We must think ahead and ensure that our future generations are not left empty-handed because of the ill motives of some."

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani, however, says the country can't afford to rebuild its oil sector without foreign help.

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