Iraq plans to hold a licensing auction later this year to award the giant Nassiriya oil field to international oil companies, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani told a visiting Japanese minister of trade and industry, according to the Dow Jones Newswires.

“Prequalified Japanese companies will be invited to develop the field, along with other interested firms,” Shahristani said during a joint news conference with Japan’s trade minister Akihiro Ohata broadcast on state-run al-Iraqia television said Tuesday

The Japanese minister called on the Iraqi government to resume negotiations with a group of Japanese firms to develop the Nassiriya oil field, Kyodo news agency said, quoting Japanese officials.

The newswire reports that back in August 2009, a Japanese consortium led by Nippon Oil Corp rerached an agreement in principal with the Iraqi government for rights to develop the Nassiriya oil field.

But negotiations have effectively been suspended, partly because of the national parliamentary election Iraq held in March 2010. Baghdad then said the talks reached a dead end and the ministry of oil would develop the field relying on its own resources.

Nassiriya currently produces around 10,000 barrels a day from a field size estimated to be in the region of 4.4 billion barrels.

(Source ArabianOilandGas)