There is a chance Iraq may hold one-on-one talks with a Japanese consortium led by JX Holdings to develop the giant Nassiriya oilfield, Iraq’s Deputy Oil Minister Ahmed al-Shamma said today, adding that a decision would depend on the policy of the new government in Baghdad.
The comments came after the country's Deputy Prime Minister for energy affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani, said this month he planned to invite international oil companies to develop the Nassiriya field, in southern Iraq, in a bidding round later this year.
"Japanese companies have a good chance because they have done a lot of work on it," Reuters quoted Al-Shamma as telling reporters during a visit to Tokyo.
"They have better knowledge of the field, of its capability, they could make a better offer than any other company."
Iraq said last year it would develop Nassiriya on its own after months of talks with a Japanese group made up of JX Holdings, Inpex Corp and JGC Corp ended in failure over financing issues.
Iraq has not made a decision to develop Nassiriya and build a 300,000 bpd refinery there in one package, but the idea has been gaining some traction within the Oil Ministry, Al-Shamma said.
The largely undeveloped Nassiriya field is listed as having reserves of under 5 billion barrels.
Al-Shamma also said Iraq plans to raise capacity at its southern oil export facilities in the Gulf to between 5 million and 6 million bpd by the end of 2013 as part of the OPEC member's plan to boost its crude output.
The projects, which are divided into two stages, involve the installation of new pipelines and single point moorings and are partly funded by a Japanese government loan, he said.
Iraq exports the bulk of the oil from its southern fields around the city of Basra, which now averages more than 1.5 million bpd.
"We have a plan also to rehabilitate our northern system to its original capacity of 1.6 million bpd," he said.
Oil from the Kirkuk fields in the northern region currently provides another 400,000 bpd or so in exports.
(Source: Upstream Online)