Iraq’s Oil Ministry has set out the prequalification process for international oil companies (IOCs) preparing to participate in the country’s fourth oil and gas field bid round.

Baghdad hopes to include firms which were not previously qualified in the three previous bidding rounds and to re-evaluate qualified IOCs, which did not sign service contracts, especially legal and financial criteria.

Firms must submit prequalification documents by 19 May along with a fee of ID18m ($15,414).

The planned fourth licensing round to be held in November covers twelve oil and gas exploration blocks, although the oil ministry has yet to release their locations. Government officials have said the blocks were likely to be in the largely unexplored western areas of the country and may include Iraq’s first offshore exploration block.

Iraq has so far signed 12 oil field development contracts with IOCs after three oil and gas field licensing rounds in 2009 and 2010. The Oil Ministry says it expects Iraq’s oil production capacity to rise to 3.3 million barrels a day (b/d) in 2012, 4.5 million b/d in 2013 and 6.5 million b/d in 2014, up from the current 2.7 million b/d (MEED 22:10:10).