Italian utility Edison is interested in bidding for the two gas fields on offer in Iraq’s first oil and gas bidding round, a senior company executive said on.

Iraq is offering its Akkas and Mansuriyah gas fields as part of a bidding round that includes some of its most prized oil fields.

“We are interested in both fields,” Pietro Cavanna, Edison’s head of oil and gas assets, told Reuters. “We will do our best to deal with competition for resources and capital and to be successful.”

It was too early to say if Edison would definitely bid, he added, speaking on the sidelines of a workshop in Istanbul hosted by Iraqi officials for energy firms preparing to bid for oil and gas contracts.

He declined to estimate the cost of developing either field. Other sources at the workshop said the gas projects would cost at least a billion dollars.

Iraq offered to sweeten the terms of the model contract for the fields at the workshop on Thursday, although doubts remain for oil companies contemplating what they see as risky deals.

“There has been some improvement in terms and conditions,” Cavanna said. “Some of the suggestions of the international companies have been taken into account.”

Edison, which is jointly controlled by French power giant EDF and Italian utility A2A, is among 35 companies that Iraq has declared qualified to bid for the oil and gas contracts.

IRAN

In Iran, Edison aims to begin drilling by the end of the year at the Dayyer offshore block in the Gulf, he said. Edison and Iran signed a $107 million contract for the block in January 2008.

“We think this field is a good prospect,” Cavanna said. “We hope to start drilling by the end of this year or in early 2010, depending on the availability of rigs.”

Edison had come under no political pressure to stay out of Iran since signing the deal, he said.

The administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush put political pressure on companies and countries that courted Iran for energy deals, as the United States looked to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

The Dayyer field was one of three blocks awarded to international oil companies out of 17 offered for bidding in early 2007.

(AFX & Rigzone)