Iraq will sign a final contract with Royal Dutch Shell Tuesday for a $12-billion project to capture flared gas at southern oilfields, two sources close to the deal said Sunday.
Iraq's oil ministry, Shell, and Japanese project partner Mitsubishi have solved differences that had delayed the joint venture with Iraq's South Gas Co since a draft agreement was struck in 2008. "We have agreed on everything. The initial signing is on Tuesday," said an Iraqi oil source.
The final version of the contract, which has been held up by legal problems and political disagreement, will be sent to the cabinet for approval after it is initialled this week, another source close to the deal said.
The joint venture, named Basra Gas Co, would be at the forefront of Iraq's plans to modernise its energy facilities and boost oil exports that hover around levels seen before the US-led invasion in 2003. The Iraqi government will hold 51 per cent of the venture.
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Iraq has struggled for years with power blackouts and risks years of electricity shortages until associated gas from vast oil fields in the south is captured and fed to new power plants.
Iraq is losing one billion cubic feet per day of gas through flaring, mostly from the south. Iraq would use the gas produced under the agreement with Shell in the domestic market to help meet rapidly rising demand for electricity and could export the surplus.
The 25-year development deal would help Iraq capture more than 700 million cubic feet per day of gas currently being burnt off at three southern oilfields — Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna Phase One, auctioned in the first bidding round in 2009.
Baghdad signed a series of deals with international oil companies in 2009 which have the potential to boost its crude output capacity to 12 million barrels per day. As natural gas builds up in association with rising oil output, pressure is mounting on Iraq to find a solution.