Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Iraq invites oil firms to Jun 26 refining meeting

* Conference to discuss four new refineries

* Iraq seeks to export refined products

BAGHDAD, June 23 (Reuters) - Iraq will host a gathering of international oil executives in Baghdad on Saturday to discuss contracts for the four planned refineries that would add about 750,000 barrels per day of capacity, Oil Ministry spokesman Assim Jihad said on Wednesday.

"There are many international companies that expressed their interest to participate and to reach an agreement with the Oil Ministry," he said. The conference is the first step before inviting companies to tender for the refineries, he added.

Iraq wants to build a refinery in Nassiriya, southern Iraq, with a capacity of 300,000 bpd, and a second one in the northern oil city of Kirkuk with a capacity of 150,000 bpd, Jihad said. A third refinery, at Maysan in the south, is projected at 150,000 bpd and the fourth in Kerbala at 140,000 bpd.

Earlier this month, engineering and construction company Foster Wheeler (FWLT.O) said it was awarded a feasibility study and engineering design contract for the Nassiriya refinery. [ID:nASA00F1Q]

Iraq plans to boost its refining capacity to 1.5 million bpd in the next five years by building the four new refineries and overhauling existing ones, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told Reuters in May. The engineering designs for the four refineries will be completed this year. [ID:nLDE64Q2AN]

Iraq has eight oil refineries with a capacity of 659,000 bpd. It produces about 453,000 bpd of refined products and uses 589,000 bpd, according to the OPEC website, although Shahristani said last year that Iraq had attained self-sufficiency in refined products.

Years of war, sanctions and underinvestment have ravaged Iraq's ability to produce enough fuels like gasoline and diesel to meet growing domestic requirements, forcing it to buy imported fuel to plug the gap.

Iraq has said it plans to boost refining capacity as part of a $50 billion plan to revamp its investment-starved energy sector. In 2007, Iraqi parliament approved a law allowing foreign firms to build and operate domestic refineries.

Baghdad has signed a series of deals with global oil companies and aims to boost its crude output capacity to 12 million bpd from 2.5 million bpd in six to seven years. (Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by William Hardy)

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