Italy’s Eni has awarded US oilfield services firm Baker Hughes a $640m contract to drill 60 wells at the 4-billion-barrel Zubair oil field in the south of Iraq.

Drilling is expected to be completed in three years on a turnkey basis, says Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, Reuters news agency reports.

Baker Hughes could not be reached for confirmation. Only five oil field services firms have been granted drilling licences by the Oil Ministry. These include four US firms: Baker Hughes; Schlumberger; Halliburton; and Weatherford, as well as the local Oil Serv (MEED 5:11:10).

The field is being developed by a consortium of Eni, the US’ Occidental Petroleum, South Korea’s Korea Gas Corporation and state-owned Missan Oil Company. The consortium agreed to increase output to 700,000 barrels a day (b/d) by 2013, from 270,000 b/d currently.