Iraq made headlines last month when, for the first time ever, state oil marketer Somo offered up 48mn barrels of crude on a prepayment basis in a desperate attempt to raise cash for the country’s ailing economy (MEES, 27 November).

Reports suggest that Zhenhua Oil, a subsidiary of Chinese state defense contractor Norinco, will win the contract – which not only covers the one-year prepayment agreement but will see the firm take 240mn barrels over a five-year period. (CONTINUED - 1104 WORDS)