Iraq will auction for gas blocs following two oil bidding rounds in 2009. (Photo: Reuters)
Iraq is considering holding a fourth bidding round for international energy firms interested in gas exploration contracts, government officials said on Sunday.
Iraq will "initially" offer 12 exploration blocs, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi told reporters.
He did not give further details, but Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the ministry's licensing and contracting office, told Reuters it will be only for gas blocs as Iraq does not need to auction more oil fields following two oil bidding rounds in 2009.
"The fourth bidding round which Iraq is preparing for will be for the exploration of gas blocs," Ameedi said.
Baghdad signed a series of deals with global oil firms to develop some of its largest oil fields and boost its crude output potential to 12 million barrels per day in six to seven years.
Current oil production is more than 2.7 million barrels per day, Luaibi said, the first time it has reached that level in 20 years.
"This was achieved through Iraq's national effort and the work of the international oil companies," Luaibi said.
OPEC member Iraq sits on the world's fourth-largest oil reserves but has struggled to push output close to the 3 million barrels per day it produced in the late 1980s, before it invaded Kuwait.
Oil exports in December rose to 1.951 million barrels per day, from 1.912 million barrels per day in November, the oil minister said, adding he expected exports for January to exceed 2 million barrels per day due to surplus of crude at storage from last month.