The Iraqi government opened six oil fields to bidding today, without mention of expected no-bid contracts with big Western oil companies, the AP notes; it had been reported that several big companies were close to signing short-term deals with Iraq's government. "There is no preferential treatment for anyone, no matter who," a spokesman said.
"There was never any intention to award the contracts without a tender," he added. The New York Times had reported that Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Total SA were all close to signing deals with Iraq, as a way to boost production in the short term before the country agreed on a national oil law. (Read more Iraq oil stories.)