The company previously invited bids in June for the drilling contracts at the South Rumaila and Luhais fields near Basra (MEED 16:6:08).

Contractors will be expected to drill to depths of up to 6,500 metres and provide heavy-capacity drilling rigs. The new deadline for bids is 20 August rather than the initial 27 July date.

The Rumaila field, expected to undergo seismic testing later in 2008, is estimated to hold about 18 billion barrels of oil, while Luhais is one of several large fields expected to be developed by oil majors during the upcoming award of technical service agreements.

Iraq is hoping to boost its current oil production of about 2.5 million barrels-a-day (b/d) by up to 500,000 b/d in the next 12 months through a series of deals with international oil companies.

Iraq’s Oil Ministry is due to announce the results of its first round of tenders to develop several of its largest fields in the next few months.