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Iraq: Oil Producers Must Compete to Win Iraqi Contracts

Iraq's oil minister says international companies that want to develop Iraqi oil fields will have to compete for bids in the open market.

Husayn al-Shahristani says no company will get special treatment from the government in Baghdad. He was speaking Thursday in Moscow after talks with executives from Russian oil giant, Lukoil.

Lukoil won a contract from Saddam Hussein's government to drill at West Qurna, one of Iraq's largest oil fields. Saddam's authorities later scrapped the deal, but Lukoil is hoping to revive it with Iraq's current elected leaders.

Shahristani says all qualified oil producers will be invited to bid for stakes in Iraq's oil fields. He says the bidding process could begin next month if parliament passes a key oil law by then.

Shahristani says Russia's Lukoil will have an advantage in gaining new contracts because of its previous work in Iraq.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.