Source AP ©

Iraqi oil minister says no special oil and gas contracts for Russia

Husayn al-Shahristani, Iraq 's oil minister said that Russian companies which worked for years in the Iraqi energy industry until the U.S.-led invasion would get no special treatment as earlier oil and gas contracts are reviewed and renegotiated.

Speaking before a meeting Thursday with Russia's energy minister Viktor Khristenko, Husayn al-Shahristani suggested that their experience working to tap Iraq's oil wealth might give them an edge.

He referred to leading oil producer OAO Lukoil, which had an agreement with Saddam Hussein's government to drill at the giant West Qurna field.

"Bearing in mind that Russia has developed the field before, it may have a certain advantage and make a more competitive bid than others," al-Shahristani was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. "However, it depends on Lukoil - whether it offers the best terms to Iraq or not."

The Lukoil press department confirmed that al-Shahristani met for more than two hours with the company's president Vagit Alekperov, who returned to Moscow from holiday specially for the meeting. "They discussed joint projects, in particular West Qurna-2," the press department said. No further details of the meeting were provided.