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Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq postponed its next licensing round for energy-exploration rights by more than a month to May 30, the head of the Oil Ministry’s licensing department said, delaying bidding for the second time this year.
The two-day round had been scheduled for April 11, Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, the department’s director-general, said in a telephone interview from Baghdad.
“There are amendments to the contract model, a matter which requires more time for bidding companies to study it,” he said today.
The ministry initially planned to auction rights on March 7. It delayed that round after bidders asked for more time to study the contracts, al-Ameedi said on Jan. 4. Iraq has awarded 15 oil and natural-gas licenses to foreign companies since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted President Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Arab nation is the third-largest oil producer in OPEC and seeks to develop natural gas to help generate electricity.
Iraq is auctioning 12 exploration areas, seven for oil and five for gas, according to the ministry. They contain 29 billion cubic meters of gas and 10 billion barrels of crude, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said in March. Forty-six companies have qualified for the bidding, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA.
Iraq’s average crude oil exports currently exceed 2.165 million barrels a day and its production averages 2.75 million barrels a day, Abdel Ilah Qassem Al Amir, adviser to Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said in a telephone interview from Baghdad today.
--Editors: Rob Verdonck, Alessandro Vitelli
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