Iraq is close to awarding oil concessions to two big French firms and has invited international partners to invest in several gas projects, a senior Iraqi official said Sunday.
The deals would make Elf Aquitaine and Total S.A. the first Western companies to sign oil exploration and drilling agreements with Iraq since the Gulf War.
Baghdad is “on the verge” of signing the agreements for oil fields in southeastern Iraq, said Faleh Al-Khayat, director-general for planning in the Oil Ministry.
“These negotiations are at a very, very advanced stage,” he told reporters at an oil and gas conference in Dubai. He did not elaborate.
Western companies have not signed oil exploration or drilling agreements with Iraq since the United Nations imposed sanctions on it for invading Kuwait in August 1990.
The sanctions, which include an embargo on oil exports, are to stay in effect until Iraq assures the United Nations that it has scrapped its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.