LUKoil to challenge oilfield contenders in Iraq

Russia's top oil firm LUKoil said on Tuesday it would block Iraq's huge West Qurna oilfield development for many years if any US or British firm decided to challenge its leading role in the project. LUKoil Vice President Leonid Fedun announced they would sue any new contender for the field for at least $20 billion and ask international courts to arrest tankers with Iraqi crude oil. "Nobody can develop this field without us in the next eight years. If somebody decides to squeeze LUKoil out, we are going to appeal to the Geneva arbitration court, which will immediately arrest this field," said Fedun. "This type of trials can last for about six or eight years...We are going to arrest tankers with crude produced in Iraq using the Geneva court," he added.

Oil analysts have said that ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips of the United States are likely to compete with Anglo-Dutch Shell Group, Britain's BP and TotalFinaElf of France for major production contracts if post-war Iraq privatizes its oil industry. Russian firms have the most to lose in a post-war Iraq as they have signed contracts worth $4 billion with the government of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to drill oil wells, deliver equipment and develop Iraq's massive oil reserves, which rank second in the world after those of Saudi Arabia, the Russia Journal reported.

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