Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oil majors maneuver for prime position in Iraq

LONDON (Reuters) - The world's top oil companies are maneuvering intently to win a stake in their oilfield of choice when Iraq finally opens to multibillion dollar investment.

From a safe distance, multinationals are poring over data from Iraq's most promising oilfields and some of its older workhorses to gain the edge when the bidding begins.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has signaled the race for oilfield deals worth $20 billion could start this autumn. But oil men, noting a lack of security and investment law, are under no illusion that drilling is imminent.

"We've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and are ready to act quickly -- but under the right conditions," said a senior Western oil executive.

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