Iraq’s Kurdish region has signed seven new oil and gas contracts with international companies, awarded four more to a new state-owned company and revised the terms of old deals, the Kurdish government said.
Despite the threat of a Turkish offensive into the region to track down guerrillas using northern Iraq as a base, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has pushed ahead with long-term plans to attract international energy companies to develop its oil and gas.
It aims to boost oil output to a million barrels per day in about five years from just a few thousand bpd now.
“These contracts are a major step towards the Kurdistan region’s goal of increasing oil production to one million bpd,” top energy official Ashti Hawrami said.
“There will be more announcements soon.”
The international companies that signed up for the new production sharing contracts include India’s Reliance , which won two contracts for the Rovi and Sarta blocks, and Austria’s OMV, which was awarded two PSCs in the Mala Omar and Shorish blocks.
Hungary’s MOL won two contracts for two blocks – the Akre-Bijeel block, where it will partner Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and the Shaikan block, where it will work alongside co-venturers Gulf Keystone and Texas Keystone.
A seventh deal was awarded to a western oil company, with details to be announced in coming days, the KRG said.
Four more exploration blocks were awarded to a newly-formed government-owned Kurdistan Exploration and Production Company (Kepco).
Kepco will bring in large international oil companies as partners in the blocks to provide technical and financial backing for Kepco, the KRG said.
All the deals give 15% of profits on any commercial discoveries to the operators, with the rest going to Iraq.
Hawrami said five more deals were pending final negotiations, and that international companies had shown strong interest in another 24 oil and gas exploration blocks still available.
The region’s oil and gas council also reviewed five older PSCs to bring them in line with the Kurdish law.
Those deals include the contract signed with Norway’s DNO , which was the first international oil company to drill in Iraq after the US-led invasion of March 2003, Reuters said.