Royal Dutch Shell and Petronas Wins Iraqi Oil Field, One of World's Largest (RDS.A,TOT)

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12/11/2009-Iraq awarded rights to Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) and Malaysia's Petronas to develop one of the world's largest remaining untapped oilfields.

Meanwhile, French oil company Total (NYSE:TOT) partnered with China's CNPC and Petronas to win the smaller Halfaya oilfield.

The contracts have the potential to increase Iraqi's oil production to levels rivaling that of top oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, and could change the geopolitical power balance in the Middle East.

However, no successful bids were made for more dangerous fields like those located in East Baghdad, which lies under the capital's Sadr City slum, as well as fields located in northern areas, which are constantly in disarray as Arabs and Kurds war over land and Sunni insurgents like Al Qaeda still roam and threaten peace.

Nonetheless, the most pricey field, West Qurna Phase Two, with 12.9 billion barrels of reserves, hasn't been auctioned yet, but is scheduled to be put up for auctioning on Saturday.

Shares of Royal Dutch Shell are up 0.9% in premarket trading while shares of Total S.A. are up 1.8%.

by Chip Brian