-Competition is hotting up for rights to develop one of Iraq's largest oilfields after Russia's oil giant Lukoil (LKOH.RS) submitted this weekend an improved offer and accepted the government's production sharing terms, an official said.
Iraq is offering international oil companies a rare chance to gain a foothold in one of the world's largest deposits of crude at a time when few opportunities exist for private investors to exploit Middle East oil. In the Middle East, the industry is mainly controlled by state oil companies.
Lukoil is said to have raised the production plateau for the West Qurna-1 field in its new proposal and the company expects a decision by the Iraqi oil ministry on Monday or Tuesday, an industry official, with knowledge of the matter, said.
The Russian company is partnering ConocoPhillips (COP) in the bid. Lukoil is now the second international oil company after Exxon to accept Baghdad's $1.90 a barrel payment fee for West Qurna, the most sought-after field in the country's first postwar petroleum round held at the end of June this year.
British oil major BP PLC and China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, signed an initial agreement with Iraq to develop Rumaila, Iraq's largest producing oil field, paving the way for a final deal calling for investment estimated at as much as $15 billion, an Iraq ministry spokesman said.