Iraq’s decision last week to approve six exploration blocks initially awarded in April 2018 immediately drew geopolitical analyses pointing to the fact that, both in terms of timing and language, the decision was influenced by the ongoing US-Iran struggle in Baghdad (MEES, 24 January). But in doing so, the actual implications of the bid round for Iraq’s oil and gas sector have gone somewhat overlooked.

Overall, six blocks were awarded in the fifth licensing round, which was held under former Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi (MEES, 30 March 2018). The licensing round had more of a focus on non-associated gas plays than Iraq’s previous licensing rounds, and in that respect mirrors Baghdad’s priorities. (CONTINUED - 1076 WORDS)