Iraq managed to offload six of the eleven blocks offered up in its hastily patched together 26 April licensing round. The other five blocks received no bids. On the surface this was a bigger success than Iraq’s previous round in 2012, which secured a miserly three awards out of the twelve on offer (MEES, 4 June 2012).

But the 2012 licensing round resulted in Russia’s Lukoil and Japan’s Inpex securing Block 10. Both firms are on an order of magnitude bigger than the firms...