Russian firm Stroytransgaz was awarded a 34-year contract this week to explore and produce oil and gas in western Iraq’s Block 17, a ministry statement confirms. The deal requires approval from the ministerial council, and given American sanctions on the firm due to its involvement in Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, it could spark fierce US opposition.

The award has not come out of the blue, with Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the oil ministry’s contracts division, saying in early 2018 that Iraq hoped to secure a contract with the firm to develop reserves in the west of the country (MEES, 2 March 2018). The plans have survived last year’s change of government. (CONTINUED - 1062 WORDS)