BAGHDAD -- Iraq has opened its fourth post-war bidding round for oil and natural gas exploration to over three dozen foreign firms in hopes of developing its energy sector.
Exploration in a dozen parts of the country is up for bids in the two-day auction beginning Wednesday.
Expected bidders include Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, the UK's BP, U.S.-based Chevron and Occidental, China's CNOOC and CNPC, Japan's Japex and Russia's Lukoil.
The bidders compete for service contracts in which they will be paid a flat fee, rather than more lucrative production-sharing contracts.
In this round, only areas with undetermined resources are on offer.
In three previous rounds held since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the rights to big and medium-sized oil and gas fields were auctioned off.
The Associated Press