Iraq has signed deals with two Chinese companies and UAE-based Crescent Petroleum for the development of six oil and gas fields.

The country aims to cut gas imports by improving domestic production to meet the needs of the power stations, reported Reuters.

Crescent Petroleum signed three contracts with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil to develop oil and natural gas fields in the Basra and Diyala provinces in northeastern Baghdad.

Under the 20-year contract, Crescent will develop the Gilabat-Qumar and Khashim fields in Diyala. The fields are expected to initially produce 250 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Crescent will also explore and develop the Khider Al-Mai block in the Basra province.

Crescent Petroleum exploration and production executive director Abdulla Al Qadi said: “We are pleased to commence this long-term partnership with the Government of Iraq. Our new planned investments and operations will create thousands of new jobs and support the local and national economy.

“Gas and oil supplies from these operations will help improve services and local economic development for the people of Iraq.”

Iraq has also signed two contracts with China’s Geo-Jade for the exploration and development rights to the Huwaiza oilfield in the south, and the Naft Khana, northeast of Baghdad.

Chinese oil and gas company United Energy Group also signed a contract to develop the Sindbad oilfield near Basra.

Iraq Oil Minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani was cited by Reuters as saying that the new contracts are expected to help produce over 800 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Ghani said the country plans to launch a new bidding round for exploration blocks in the north, central, and western regions to maximise the domestic production of natural gas.