Iraq is looking to auction 12 oil and gas exploration blocks in November in a bid to increase the feedstock supply for its power generation and pave the way for exports.

Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi, the country’s oil minister, said on 22 March that 70 per cent of the blocks are believed to contain natural gas, with the rest containing a mix of oil and gas,

“We think that these 12 blocks contain at least 29 trillion cubic feet (cf) of gas,” said Al-Luaibi.

Iraq has auctioned off 15 oil and gas fields in three previous auctions.

The country has natural gas reserves of 126.7 trillion cf and needs to boost its current output of 1.6 billion cubic feet a year (cf/y) to meet its increasing demand for electricity, and supply upcoming power projects.

 According to the Electricity Ministry, Iraq is only generating 8,000MW of the 13,000-15,000MW of power currently required to meet Iraqi needs today.

The Iraqi government has awarded several major power plant contracts to international companies, which will be completed by 2015, and increase capacity by 12,000MW. By then, demand is likely to have grown by 20,000MW.

The country also has ambitions to become one of the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) once its domestic needs are met.