A consortium of the US’ ExxonMobil and the UK/Dutch Shell Group has finalised a deal to take on the first-phase development of the West Qurna oil field in southern Iraq.

The companies signed a deal to develop the field with Iraq’s Oil Ministry on 25 January, after a series of negotiations which started in June 2009 and ended in November (MEED 5:11:09).

The deal was not signed until January because it needed to be ratified by the country’s parliament.

Under the terms of the 20-year deal, the consortium must boost production at the southern part of the field from current levels of around 280,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 2.33 million b/d.

They will receive $1.90 for every barrel of oil they produce over an agreed minimum. Exxon leads the consortium with an 80 per cent stake, while Shell holds the remaining 20 per cent.

It is the first deal to be signed with a US-led consortium since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A consortium of Russia’s Lukoil and Norway’s Statoil signed an agreement to complete the second phase of the West Qurna development in December (MEED 13:12:09).

They agreed to raise output at the northern half of the field to1.8 million b/d for a fee of $1.15 for every barrel produced above an agreed level of 120,000 b/d.

Lukoil leads the consortium with an 85 per cent stake and will operate the field.