Russian oil firm Tatneft said on March 16th that it had secured U.N. approval for a contract signed in March 2000 to drill 33 oil wells in Iraq.
The approval follows a similar announcement in late February that the U.N. had approved a contract for Tatneft and Russian firm Zarubezhneft to drill 45 oil wells in the existing Bai Hassan and Saddam fields in northern Iraq with Iraq’s state-owned North Oil Co.
The new contract, which is to last one year, will take effect after the U.N. opens a letter of credit with a western bank, a Tatneft official said.
The news comes after reports in the Iraqi weekly al-Zawra on March 15th that Baghdad is in discussions with several foreign oil companies to sign contracts for the exploration of new oil fields in southern Iraq.
The newspaper said that the Iraqi oil ministry was holding advanced talks with Indonesian and Malaysian firms to conduct new oil exploration, although the report did not specify the companies involved.
Indonesian state oil company Pertamina has expressed interest in developing the Tuba oil field in southern Iraq and in conducting oil exploration in the western desert, with discussions on the deals started in 1995.
It was unclear what Malaysian firm was involved in the oil talks. The paper indicated that India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. had signed a contract with Oil Exploration Co. of Iraq in November 2000 to explore Block No. 8 in Iraq’s western desert, which is considered to have high prospects due to its proximity to the Abu Khema oil field discovered by ONGC in 1974-77.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)