Iraq’s oil ministry is planning a third hydrocarbon licensing auction to develop three gas fields, Akkas, Mansuriyah and Siba, by the end of 2010.

Out of the 44 international companies pre-qualified for Iraq’s first and second bid rounds, only 15 will be invited to submit bids for the three fields, Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, director general of the oil ministry’s petroleum contracts and licensing directorate told Dow Jones Newswires.  

Two of the fields, Akkas and Mansuriyah were included in the first bid round in June 2009. The 3.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) Mansuriyah field in the western desert received no bids, while the 2.1 tcf Akkas field close to the border with Syria received only one, from a consortium led by Italy’s Edison. Following the auction, the oil ministry later announced that it would develop the fields on its own (MEED 6:8:09).

However, the ministry did award an $80.5m engineering, procurement and supply contract to India’s BGR Energy Systems for both fields. According to the BGR, both fields have a target production of 110 million cubic feet a day.

The 0.1 tcf Siba field was initially included in the second bid round in December 2009, but was dropped from the final list before it took place.

According to the UK’s BP, at the end of 2008 Iraq’s proven gas reserves stood at 111.9 tcf, the tenth largest reserves in the world, 70 per cent of which lie in the Basra region in the south of the country. Baghdad plans to increase natural gas production to 2.5 tcf a year under its 10-year strategic plan launched in 2008. In 2006, the country produced 100 billion cubic feet a year.