US oil major ExxonMobil has awarded a $100m contract to Iraqi Drilling Company to drill 20 oil wells in the West Qurna-1 oil field in Basra, southern Iraq.

The project is expected to be completed within 24 months and will cost up to $100m, director-general of the Iraqi group, Idris Mohsen al-Yasseri, told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

ExxonMobil had previously won a contract bid to develop the West Qurna oil field with UK-Dutch oil major Shell. The field was expected to hit a capacity of 400,000 barrels-a-day by the end of 2011.