A consortium of Chinese firms including CNOOC and Sinochem is leading the race to win a contract to develop Iraq’s 2.5 billion-barrel Missan oilfield complex after agreeing to Iraqi government proposals, oil ministry officials have announced.

Iraq’s Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said the consortium has agreed to lower its remuneration fee to $2.30 a barrel from the initial $21.40 rate.

Cnooc would hold a 60% stake in the venture and Sinochem will own 15%, while the Iraqi state company will own the rest, writes The Wall Street Journal.

The Cnooc-Sinochem consortium was the only alliance that bid last year for the Missan oilfields. Some of the fields fall in the disputed area near the border with Iran.

If the Cnooc-led group wins the deal it has to pay a recoverable signature bonus of $300m, according to the Iraq oil ministry’s tender protocol.

The Iraq government has set a minimum production-plateau target of 275,000bpd from the Missan fields, which are producing 100,000bpd.

If awarded, Missan would bring to 11 the number of deals signed with international companies from the first and second bidding rounds held last year.