Iraq Invites Foreign Bids for 11 Natural Gas Blocks to Reduce Reliance on Iranian Imports

June 18 (Reuters) - Iraq on Sunday invited foreign companies to bid for contracts to explore and develop natural gas reserves in 11 new blocks as the OPEC member seeks to produce much-needed natural gas for power stations and cut imports that weigh on the country's budget.

Eight blocks are located in western Anbar province, one in the northern city of Mosul and two others are located along province borders, including one between Anbar region with Mosul and another with Iraq's southern city of Naja, the oil ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Iraq's oil ministry has ended preparation to launch a sixth bidding round to auction off the gas blocks, the ministry said, without setting a date for the bidding process.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia, flares much of its own gas, extracted alongside crude oil at its fields, because it lacks the facilities to process it into fuel and instead uses Iranian power imports to generate electricity.

Baghdad has been under pressure from the United States to reduce its reliance on gas imports from Iran.

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