Iraq is offering nine new blocks for oil and gas exploration and production, Reuters reports.
In a press conference, the Iraqi Oil Minister, Jabab El Luaibi, called on companies to submit bids for the blocks.
“We invite all international companies to participate,” he said, adding, “[t]his new exploration bidding round aims to maximize reserves.”
The country, OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, is looking to further develop its oil industry.
“The ministry is targeting to boost both production and reserves of oil and gas in cooperation with international companies,” the ministry said in a statement released prior to the press conference, according to Reuters
The nine blocks being offered have not been explored because of previous conflicts with Iraq’s neighbors, El Luaibi said. Five of the blocks are along the Iranian border, three along the Kuwaiti border, and one in the Arabian Gulf, the news agency reports.
The bidding period will end in May 2018, according to Reuters.
Exploration and production contracts will be offered under different terms than in the past. Under previously negotiated contracts, Iraq pays a fixed price for each barrel produced, leaving it financially exposed when prices drop, the news agency previously reported.
Iraq’s oil production numbers have recently slipped. Despite higher export numbers from Iraq’s southern oil port of Basra, the country’s oil exports—as a whole—have fallen since the central government seized the Kirkurk oilfields from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) this fall.