The Iraqi Oil Ministry’s Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate (PCLD) has selected the list of companies that have qualified to bid for the Nasiriya 300,000 b/d integrated oil field and refinery project. After two elimination rounds, the original roster of 18 pre-qualified companies has been culled. Neither ministry favorites Total or Lukoil were among the last five, though Russian state-owned heavyweight Rosneft made the cut.

The PCLD has already delayed the bidding deadline twice since last year, but has now set a firm date of 19 June for submission of bids for the strategic project that the oil ministry hopes will help to satisfy domestic demand for refined products. Although Nasiriya is being offered as an integrated project, the PCLD broke up the list into three categories – upstream only, downstream and upstream and downstream alone. In the final list published on the oil ministry’s website, the sole company that qualified for the upstream portion is Maurel et Prom, a Paris-based minnow with no assets in the Middle East (except for an onshore block in Syria awarded in 2006). Of the other four, Rosneft qualified to bid for both upstream and downstream, Indian refiners Essar and ONGC Bangalore along with GS Engineering and Construction of South Korea all qualified for the downstream. Downstream qualifiers need to bring an upstream player on board from any of the 45 companies that were qualified to bid in Iraq’s four previous upstream oil and gas rounds. (CONTINUED - 366 WORDS)