A consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) Monday accepted amendments made by the Iraqi government to a service contract to develop the West Qurna Phase 1 oil field in southern Iraq, a senior Iraqi oil ministry official said.
"They have accepted the changes, and we are finalizing the deal with them on Jan. 25," Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the oil ministry's Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Exxon Mobil, the first U.S. company to gain access to Iraq's oil reserves, and Shell won the right to develop the oil field, which holds proven oil reserves of 8.7 billion barrels, following the country's historic first post-war oil-bidding round held in June 2009.
Iraq Monday finalized a deal with Malaysia's Petronas and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (1662.TO), known as Japex, to develop the smaller Garraf oil field in southern Iraq.
Shell along with Petronas Sunday finalized another deal to develop the giant 12.8-billion-barrel Majnoon oil field.
Also, in other "stability improving" news,
Shares in Norwegian oil company DNO International ASA (DNO.OS) rose Monday after the Kurdistan Regional Government said it's willing to resolve a dispute with Iraq's central government over oil contracts the KRG had signed without federal approval.
Responding to a call from Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to settle the dispute, the KRG said in a weekend statement that it is ready to do so. The KRG also said it's willing resume oil exports from northern oil fields--after a suspension of nearly four months--provided that Iraq's federal government agrees to reimburse foreign companies for the costs they have incurred by producing oil from these fields.
"The KRG is ready to start a serious dialogue regarding this matter, and we are also ready to immediately restart the process of oil exporting from Kurdistan Region's fields at a rate of no less than 100,000 barrels a day," the statement said.
The KRG also will work to increase production from Kurdish fields to more than 200,000 barrels a day, the statement said.
Update: This NYT Op-Ed is also well worth reading on the current political situation.