Iraq on Monday invited foreign firms to apply for tenders to explore and develop eight oil and gas fields along its Iranian and Kuwaiti borders, along with an offshore bloc.
The call was issued by Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaybi.
“The aim of these development plans... is to achieve the ministry’s goal aimed at maximising oil and gas reserves and optimising investments in border blocs neglected in past decades due to wars,” Luaybi said at a press conference in Baghdad.
Eight of the fields are located in the southern and eastern provinces of Basra, Missan, Muthanna, Wassit and Diyala, while the ninth is offshore in Iraqi territorial waters in the Gulf, he said.
Iraq fought a devastating eight-year war with its neighbour Iran from 1980 under former dictator Saddam Hussein, but the two countries have become close allies after Saddam’s fall in 2013 and the rise of a Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
In August 1990, Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait after Baghdad accused its neighbor of “stealing” Iraqi oil from the key Rumaila oilfield which straddles the two countries.
The Kuwait invasion led to the first Gulf war, which ended after a US-led international coalition ousted Iraqi forces from the emirate.
Another US-led invasion in 2003, the rise of the ISIS group and the fightback against it, conflict between Baghdad and the Kurds over disputed northern oilfields and years of low crude prices have combined to devastate Iraq’s oil industry.
Iraq is a founding member of the OPEC cartel and its second largest producer after Saudi Arabia, but currently only exports around 4.4 million barrels of oil per day.
Luaybi is due to travel to Vienna on Monday to attend a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel, which is set to discuss a reduction in oil production.
The bidding process to exploit the eight blocs will open on June 21, according to Abdel Mahdi al-Aidi, who heads the department in charge of contracts at Iraq’s oil ministry.