Oil Companies Expected to Hold Back from Developing New Iraqi Oil Contracts

BAGHDAD, Oct. 14 (UPI) — Oil companies may hold back from a new round of bidding for development contracts in Iraq due to the lack of a legal infrastructure, industry analysts said.

“The absence of a hydrocarbons law, and a regulatory framework more broadly, does make it more unappetizing for foreign oil companies to submit bids,” Joost Hiltermann, deputy program director, the Middle East and North Africa, for the International Crisis Group told The New York Times.

Iraq is set to open bidding for contracts to develop 10 oil fields in December, that hold as many as 41 billion barrels of oil, the Times reported Wednesday.

Although the oil reserves are worth an estimated $3 trillion at today’s prices, oil companies have been reluctant to pursue investment in Iraq. “The lack of infrastructure and graft are looming issues,” said Wayne Kelley, managing director of RSK Limited, an oil consulting company.

Iraq’s oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani said oil companies should be prepared to hire 85 percent Iraqis.

Admitting the country does not have enough trained technicians, however, he said oil companies should also be prepared to establish a college to train Iraqis for highly skilled jobs.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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