Iraq’s Oil Ministry has pushed back the prequalification deadline for the Nasiriya Integrated Project, giving international oil companies (IOCs) an extra month to submit their documents.

Interested refinery operators and upstream oil firms now have a deadline of 15 January 2013, rather than the originally planned 13 December deadline for the project to develop the 4-billion-barrel oil field and refinery in the south of the country.

According to the Oil Ministry, the deadline was pushed back to allow the firms more time to prepare their documents.

The scheme covers the integrated development of the Nasiriya oil field in the Thi-Qar province of southern Iraq, along with the construction and operation of a new 300,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery.

Meetings between the Oil Ministry and the IOCs are expected in the first half of 2013. The companies will then be invited to review data packages for the field, along with discussions over a model contract, with a possible award by the end of 2013.

Iraq has previously sought to award an upstream development contract for the Nasiriya field, but none of the proposals from international oil firms have been successful. If it goes ahead, the refinery will be the largest of Iraq’s planned new refineries. It is designed to satisfy demands in the south of the country, but also to supply refined oils to the Baghdad metropolitan area.