#2 - JRL 7209
Iraq denies cancelling oil contracts with Russia
BAGHDAD, June 4 (Reuters) - Iraq said on Wednesday it had not cancelled oil contracts with Russian companies to develop oil fields after the downfall of Saddam Hussein's government.
"So far the oil ministry has not cancelled any contract with any country or with international oil companies," an Iraqi oil ministry source said.
The source, however, said Russia's Lukoil contract to develop the giant West Qurna oil field had been cancelled by the former government.
The $3.7 billion contract was held by Lukoil until mid-December when Baghdad pulled the plug, saying the Russian company had failed to meet the terms of the deal by not starting development work.
He said the oil ministry had not signed any new contract since the collapse of the former government "except those signed with Turkey and Jordan to sell them fuel oil in return for gasoline."
In January, Iraq awarded a contract to Russia's Stroitransgaz, an oil and gas construction company, to develop block four in Iraq's Western Desert.
It also initiated contracts with Soyuzneftgaz for the 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) Rafidain field in southern Iraq and with Tatneft for block nine in the Western Desert.
Iraq started negotiations with Zarubezhneft, Russia's umbrella company for state holdings abroad, on the giant Bin Umar field. Najem said the production capacity of the field was an estimated 450,000 bpd.