BAGHDAD, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday opened a meeting of a bidding process to decide which companies will be awarded contract to develop eight of Iraqi giant oil and gas fields.
The bidding process, which was attended by deputy of Iraqi parliament and the Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani, attracted 32 companies and consortia to compete for the contracts, four decade after former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party nationalized the oil industry.
"We need these contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq," Maliki said in his speech during the opening of the bidding session.
"We announce our readiness to stand with the winning firms as for providing security and all possible support to facilitate and ensure the success for both parties (Iraq and the company)," Maliki said.
For his part, Shahristani said that his ministry is planning to increase the oil production from 2.4 million barrels per day (bpd) to 4.5 bpd within the five years.
The increase in oil production levels as planned will provide an extra 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars for Iraq over the next 20 years.
Iraq's oil reserve is reportedly to be the world's third largest, which needs billions of dollars investment to overhaul its oil infrastructure and increase oil and gas output after 13 years of sanctions and war.