Iraq has scrubbed plans to award six coveted no-bid contracts to Western oil companies, the New York Times reports. Negotiations with the oil giants—including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and others—dragged on for too long, said Iraq's foreign minister. The companies would have been unable to complete work to boost planned production by 500,000 barrels a day within the allotted year, he said.
The deals—relatively small, but prized as a foothold in a country with vast untapped reserves—were to be the first oil contracts awarded by Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein. But Iraq awarded a separate deal to China as talks with Western firms lagged. US lawmakers opposed to the deal welcomed the cancellation, arguing that forging a deal before Iraq finalized its oil laws would have exacerbated ethnic tensions. (Read more Hussain al Shahristani stories.)