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Iraqi nod to Chinese oil firms
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China's four oil companies are now qualified to participate in Iraq's coming licensing round for oil and gas contracts, according to the Iraqi oil ministry.

The four, China National Petroleum Corp, China Petrochemical Corp, China National Offshore Oil Corp and Sinochem Corp, are among 41 oil firms that have obtained the qualification.

Although developing oil and gas is a risky venture in Iraq, the qualification will benefit Chinese companies as oil resources in Iraq are ill developed because of sanctions and war, said Han Xiaoping, senior vice-president of Beijing Falcon Pioneer Technology Co Ltd.

In April, Iraq sanctioned 35 companies out of 120 applicants around the world. The clearance was in accordance with the criteria laid down by the Iraqi oil ministry. The ministry then added six more oil companies to that original list of 35.

The Iraqi ministry will soon sign deals with the oil companies qualified to bid for oil and gas service contracts in Iraq.

In January, the Iraqi oil ministry asked international oil companies to register with the newly set up Contracts and Licensing Office of the ministry and set Feb 18 as the deadline for receiving registration documentation.

Only qualified firms can bid for tenders to develop Iraq's oil reserves, the ministry said.

Iraq's oil reserve is reportedly the world's third largest. But the country needs billions of dollars in investment to overhaul its oil industry infrastructure and increase oil and gas output after 13 years of sanctions and war.

(China Daily June 25, 2008)

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