OPEC oil producer Iraq has invited bids for the development of 14 new oil and gas sites and said new firms would be pre-qualified for bidding.

The sites in South and Central Iraq are part of the fifth round of licensing for international companies seeking to tap the Arab country’s massive hydrocarbon resources, the official  Iraqi Alsabah newspaper reported on Thursday.

The paper quoted Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad as saying the oil sites in this round are located in the Southern Basra Governorate as well as in Saladin in Central Iraq, the Southwestern Maysan province and other parts of Iraq.

“The international companies which have not been pre-qualified in previous rounds must be subject to pre-qualification by the Ministry in the new licensing round,” Jihad said.

He noted that post-war development of oil facilities is intended to “boost Iraq’s oil and gas production and reserves and to end wasting of associated gas through flaring.”

Iraq has the world’s fifth largest extractable oil reserves of around 140 billion barrels while its proven gas resources are officially estimated at 6.4 trillion cubic metres. 

Read More: Iraq plans to soon launch sixth hydrocarbon licensing round

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)