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15

Iraq Welcomes China to Manage Vast Oil Resources

Iraq could hand China the first foreign contract to develop its vast oil resources

Iraq could hand China the first foreign contract to develop its vast oil resources, if Beijing agrees to put into effect a deal originally signed with Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Oil Ministry said yesterday.

While U.S. oil majors, excluded from Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003, wait for Iraq to pass new laws on the sector before investing, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani will visit China, Japan and Australia shortly to discuss projects and developing exports, ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said.

Iraqi oil officials have previously said they believe China will agree to develop the 90,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) Ahdab field in south central Iraq as the first project since the war.

The field, with an estimated development cost of $700-million (U.S.), was awarded to China National Petroleum Corp. and Chinese state arms manufacturer Norinco by Mr. Hussein.