Iraqi oil bidders list: Oil giants in but Exxon out

After several delays, Iraq’s fourth international oil bid will finally push through on May 30 and 31 in Baghdad.  This was confirmed recently by Iraq’s oil ministry

Iraq’s Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate (PCLD) completed the pre-qualification round, shortlisting close to 50 foreign oil firms. Unfortunately, Exxon Mobil Corporation did not make it to the final list due to tie-ups with Iraq’s self-ruled district, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Exxon forged a deal with KRG which called for investing in oil exploration in six areas within the region.

Both Baghdad and KRG do not see eye to eye, partly because of unilateral agreements entered into by the latter involving foreign oil firms. KRG earned the ire of Baghdad, which that these agreements were not even cleared by the central government and are therefore invalid. KRG meanwhile countered that the signed deals are consistent with Iraqi statutes.

These disagreements may thwart KRG’s objective of luring foreign investments into the region to spur economic development.

Two of the qualified firms were identified as SK of South Korea and Syria General Oil Company.  Nine firms came from Japan, including JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation while three others came from the middle east.

PCLD’s roster also includes global oil giants.  The likes of Chevron Corporation, Total SA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Eni SpA, Lukoil Holdings, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, and China National Petroleum Corporation will have a chance to place their bids and hopefully invest in oil explorations in Iraq through the offered oil blocks.

PCLD Head, Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi said “We are looking forward to welcoming all participating companies in Baghdad.”

A batch of prequalified firms can bid to operate the 12 oil blocks; others may join a syndicate to be headed by operators.

Iraq’s oil ministry estimates that out of the 12 blocks, 7 hold gas reserves.  The 5 others contain crude oil.  Block sizes run up to 9,000 square kilometers.