Carola Hoyos Iraq’s oil contracts: another delay, but probably a brief one

A dust storm has postponed by a day Iraq’s historic opening of the bids entered by oil companies hoping to develop its large oil reserves. Organisers of the bidding round said the delay was prompted by the closure
of Baghdad’s airport due to poor visibility. They noted that some oil company executives therefore had not been able to make it to Baghdad. The bidding round has been condensed from two days into one and will take place on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday if the weather fails to improve. Whenever it happens, it will mark the first time since the nationalisation of Iraq’s oil industry that international oil companies will be allowed back into Iraq’s fields, which holds the world’s third largest reserves of oil. Many of the world’s biggest oil companies, including ExxonMobil and Chevron, of the US, Europe’s Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total and Eni are expected to bid. Chinese and Indian companies are also expected to make bids. Hussain Shahristani, Iraq’s oil minister and the architect of the bidding round, last week came under some pressure by Iraqi politicians looking to derail the process. But oil companies expect it to go ahead and have already dispatched senior exectutives towards Baghdad.