Iraq may reopen door to Russians for oil contracts

Monday, December 29, 2003

MOSCOW Iraq has raised the prospect that Russia could return to play a leading role in the energy sector of that Arab country.

Russian industry sources said Iraqi officials have been preparing a review of Russian energy contracts under the former regime of Saddam Hussein. The sources said this would include an estimated $7.3 billion contract with LukOil for the development of the Al Qurnah oil field.

The sources said Iraqi authorities have not expelled Russian companies that have been operating under the United Nations Oil for Food program. The program expired on Nov. 21.

Nearly a year ago, the Saddam regime announced the cancellation of the LukOil contract, Middle East Newsline reported. But Russian sources said Moscow is preparing for the arrival of an Iraqi Oil Ministry delegation to discuss the resumption of energy cooperation. Russia has presented a plan to forgive 70 percent of Iraq's multi-billion dollar debt to Moscow.

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