In a surprising and belated move, Iraq’s cabinet this week authorized the Ministry of Oil to sign the six exploration contracts awarded as part of the fifth licensing round that closed in April 2018 (MEES, 27 April 2018). Given the timing, the decision appears politically motivated. Partially as a response to BP’s decision to walk away from Kirkuk, as it enables Baghdad to point to planned foreign investment, and partially the result of US pressure to develop alternatives to gas imports from Iran.

“Within the framework of the government’s efforts to enhance energy self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on imported gas, the cabinet approved the recommendation to approve the contracts related to the development of border fields, areas, and gas fields in Diyala Governorate, which will produce more than 750mn cfd within 36 months,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office reads. (CONTINUED - 916 WORDS)