(Updates with new promotional period in second paragraph.)
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq delayed a bidding round for oil and natural-gas fields to March from January in order to give companies more time to prepare their bids, said Sabah al-Saadi, an oil ministry official.
The auction will be held in the first week of March, al- Saadi, deputy director general of the Baghdad-based Oil Ministry Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate, said today in a telephone interview. A planned promotional event for the auction was pushed to early December from mid-November, he said.
Iraq has qualified 46 companies to bid for 12 exploration areas to be sold in next year’s bidding round. The seven concessions for oil and five for gas cover 80,700 square kilometers (31,158 square miles), according to an Oil Ministry statement in April. The blocks contain 10 billion barrels of crude and 29 billion cubic meters of gas, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said March 22.
Iraq, which holds the fifth-largest oil deposits and the fifth-biggest gas reserves in the Middle East, relies on crude sales for most of its revenue. Oil, gas and electricity output have suffered from decades of war and sanctions. Iraq seeks to boost oil output to 3 million barrels a day by the end of this year from 2.4 million barrels in 2010, Luaibi said on Sept. 11. Exports will reach more than 2.5 million barrels a day this year from 1.89 million barrels a year earlier, he said.
The country has signed contracts in previous bidding rounds with international companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA that should quadruple output to 12 million barrels a day by 2017, Hussain al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said in July.
--Editors: Rob Verdonck, Bruce Stanley
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