Iraq, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), is seeking bids from foreign companies for the exploration and development of natural gas reserves in 11 new blocks, reported Reuters.

The move is part of the country’s efforts to cut imports by improving domestic production to meet the needs of its power stations.

Iraq Oil Minister Hayan Abdul-Ghani was cited by the news agency as saying that the preparation was completed to launch the sixth bidding round to auction the exploration blocks.

Of these 11 gas exploration blocks, eight are located in Anbar province in western Iraq. Two blocks are shared by Anbar and Nineveh in northern Iraq and Najaf province in the south, while the last block is located in Nineveh province.

In May 2023, Xinhua quoted Abdul-Ghani as saying that the country’s estimated natural gas reserves increased by eight trillion cubic feet (tf³) to around 140tf³, while oil reserves increased by ten billion barrels (bbo) to about 155bbo.

This follows the completion of a three-dimensional seismic survey near Basra, a key oil hub located around 550km south of Baghdad.

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Earlier this year, Iraq signed an agreement with two Chinese companies and UAE-based Crescent Petroleum for the development of six oil and gas fields.

At that time, Abdel-Ghani told Reuters that the new contracts would help produce more than 800 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas.