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Iraq Confirms 4th Oil, Gas Bid Round For May; Exxon Excluded

By Hassan Hafidh Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Iraq's Oil Ministry Thursday confirmed that the country's fourth energy licensing auction, which has been postponed several times, will still be held May 30-31 in Baghdad. The ministry's Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate, or PCLD, also issued the final list of prequalified international companies for the bid round. The list named some 47 firms and excluded the previously-listed Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM). The U.S. energy giant was excluded because it signed deals with Iraq's semi-autonomous region in Kurdistan. Baghdad and Kurdistan are at loggerheads over scores of contracts that the Kurdistan Regional Government signed with international oil companies. Baghdad said these deals are nul and void because they haven't been approved by the central government, while the Kurds argue that they are in line with Iraq's new constitution. The list of prequalified firms includes South Korea's SK which was previously excluded. It also includes Syria General Oil Co. "We are looking forward to welcoming all participating companies in Baghdad," said Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the PCLD. -By Hassan Hafidh, Dow Jones Newswires; +962 799 831 831; hassan.hafidh@dowjones.com

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