Iraq plans to launch a new hydrocarbon licensing round in 2014, focusing on exploration in blocks in the western and southern deserts.

“The licensing round will be for exploration for gas in the western desert and along the borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan,” according to Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani, speaking at the Gulf Intelligence Energy Markets Forum in Dubai on 24 September.

The bid round will be Iraq’s sixth and will follow plans for a mini-bid round in December for the development of the Nasiriya oil field and integrated refinery. The last bid round, held in May 2012, disappointed expectations with only three of 12 oil and gas blocks taken up.