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Local Iraq province protests gas deal involving Kazakh company

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Tarqan
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Friday, October 22, 2010 - A major gas deal agreed between the Iraqi government in Baghdad and a pair of energy giants from Kazakhstan and South Korea has been rejected by Iraqi authorities of Anbar province who say foreign gas firms are unwelcome.

Kazakhstan's state-run KazMunaiGas and South Korea's Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas) won the rights to develop western Iraqi oil field in Anbar in a gas auction held by the central government, which is eager for foreign energy majors to tap its vast oil and gas supplies, the Reuters news agency reported on Friday.

But the local provincial council of Anbar province has threatened to disrupt work by the companies that won the joint bid to mine the Akkas gas reserves unless the Baghdad government gives attention to local needs.

"We refuse and reject the foreign companies that won the contract to develop Akkas gas field," the council chief Jassim Mohammed told the news agency. "We will not allow them to work and extract gas unless the opinion of the provincial council has been heard," he added.

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The oil ministry's auction of three natural gas fields this week have been angrily opposed by all the governorates in which they are located, with provincial officials threatening legal action against Baghdad and warning that they will refuse to cooperate with the developers.

Bids were granted to companies from Turkey, Kuwait, Kazakstan and South Korea to develop gas fields holding approximately ten per cent of the country's reserves. The fields in Anbar, Diyala and Basra are primarily being developed for domestic consumption to improve Iraq's feeble power supply, oil ministry officials said.

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