ISTANBUL: Iraq has pushed back by a month the date of an auction for international firms that want to develop three of its gas fields, company executives said on Sunday.
Baghdad had said it will invite all 45 international companies which were prequalified in the two oil auctions last year to bid for Akkas field in the western desert, Siba in the southern hub of Basra and Mansuriyah in eastern Iraq.
The auction was to have taken place on Sept. 1.
Executives from foreign firms who were interested in bidding in the gas auction said they were told by Iraqi oil officials the new date is Oct. 1.
"It’s such a short delay, it’s not really a problem," Ahmad Haidar Ahmad, business development manager at Kuwait Energy, a privately held company, told Reuters on the sidelines of a gas workshop in Istanbul.
The Iraqi Oil Ministry is holding the workshop in Istanbul on Sunday and Monday to discuss details of the gas bidding round and contract terms with interested bidders. The ministry had said it was considering postponing the gas auction to give companies more time.
Ahmad said the delay in forming a new Iraqi government has not deterred his company from taking part in the bidding round.
Iraq has had no new government since a March election produced no outright winner. Many Iraqi politicians have said it could be mid-September or later before a government is formed.
Murat Yazici, an executive from state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) who attended the workshop, also said the auction had been delayed to Oct. 1.
He said one of the main contract points under discussion in the workshop is allowing companies to export half of the gas produced from the fields. In addition to Kuwait Energy and TPAO, officials from Italy’s Edison South Korea’s KOGAS, India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) and Itochu Corp were also seen at the workshop in Istanbul.
Two of the gas fields to be tendered — the 2.1 trillion cubic feet Akkas field, and Mansuriyah with estimated reserves of 3.3 trillion cubic feet of gas — were unsuccessfully put on the auction block last year.
The third field — Siba — had initially been included in Iraq’s second oilfield auction but was taken off the list of reservoirs on offer because the ministry decided it was small enough for Iraq to develop on its own.
Iraq has said companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Total and KOGAS were favoured because of their experience in the industry. In May, Italy’s Edison said it was planning to take part in the gas auction.