West Qurna Deal in the Bag

US super major ExxonMobil and its Anglo-Dutch peer Shell, today signed a final contract for the development of Iraq's 8.7-billion-barrel West Qurna Phase One oilfield

The partners, who will work with an Iraqi state-run oil company, won the right to develop the super giant field in negotiations with the Oil Ministry last year following Iraq's June oilfield auction, the first since the 2003 US invasion, a Reuters report said.

ExxonMobil's regional vice president Richard Vierbuchen and Shell Gas & Power vice president Mounir Bouaziz signed the deal in the presence of Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani in Baghdad.

The companies plan to increase output from the oilfield to 2.325 million barrels per day from its current level of 279,000 bpd.

It is one of several deals following two oil contract auctions last year that have the potential to take Iraqi capacity to 12 million bpd - rivaling top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia - from 2.5 million bpd now.

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