Four years since Iraq’s lackluster fourth upstream licensing round concluded in May with just three blocks awarded, the government is again looking to secure foreign investment (MEES, 4 June 2012). The Ministry of Oil announced on 13 October that 12 fields are to be offered to companies. But in a change of strategy the acreage on offer is to be awarded through direct negotiations rather than a licensing round.

Furthermore, a ministry statement says that these negotiations will...