Baghdad is starting preparations for a fifth international oil and natural gas auction despite lackluster interest in a current bidding round, a minister said.
Iraq put 12 oil and natural gas exploration licenses on the auction block for a two-day bidding round. The country awarded two contracts for oil and one for natural gas.
"Of course, we will prepare for a fifth round and we have more than 60 blocks ready for bidding," Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying. "We will start, God willing, during the next month to prepare the data packages."
Iraq in the first three bidding rounds since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 auctioned off the rights to explore fields already discovered or in operation. Exploration contracts this week were for new fields.
International oil and natural gas companies have expressed reservations about costly exploration projects that come with a per-barrel fee, Bloomberg adds.
"Expectations were low going into this as the terms were so fundamentally unsuitable, but I am slightly surprised by how bad the turnout was," said Samuel Ciszuk, a consultant at KBC Energy Economics in Walton-on-Thames.