BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: Russian LukOil and its partner Japan's Inpex Corp.
Wednesday finalized a deal with the Iraqi Oil Ministry to explore for oil and gas at a block in southern Iraq.
The final contract was signed in Baghdad by the General Director of the South Oil Company Diyaa Jaafar and the Executive Director of the LukOil Kati al-Juburi.
These international firms won their deals in May at Iraq's fourth energy bidding round, which had attracted few firms because of tough contract terms set up by the Iraqi Oil Ministry.
International oil companies prefer production-sharing contracts that would allow them to register reserves, while Baghdad offered them less attractive technical services deals.
These deals will contribute to the already booming Iraqi petroleum industry that has seen Iraq become the second largest oil exporter in the 12 member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
According to a recent report issued by the International Energy Agency, the world's energy watchdog, Iraq is expected to be the world's biggest source of new oil supply over the next few years.
The conclusion of these deals came following the approval of the Iraqi cabinet last month.
However, a similar draft contract with Kuwait Energy and its partners state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corp., or TPAO, and United Arab Emirates-based Dragon Oil PLC was held back by the cabinet until the oil ministry completes certain procedures related to it.
Baghdad has signed over the last two years several oil deals with international companies that are expected to bring the country's output close the world's largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia.