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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraqi Oil Authorities Hold Tender for First Crude Sale

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq on Thursday tendered to sell its first crude since the fall of Saddam Hussein and said it aimed to clinch term supply deals by the end of June.

Returning to the international market nearly three months after the U.S. invasion, Iraq's state oil marketing organization SOMO called for bids for 10 million barrels of crude held in storage at export terminals. The oil will be loaded between June 17 to 30.

After the open tender is awarded next week, direct contracts with oil companies should follow by the end of this month, said Iraq's chief oil marketer, Mohammed al-Jibouri.

"The tender is just a one-off. We want to export our oil on term contracts," said Jibouri, head of SOMO.

"Hopefully we will start signing contracts after the barrels are emptied out of storage."

SOMO called for bids by 1600 GMT on June 10 for 8 million barrels of Kirkuk crude stored at Ceyhan in Turkey and 2 million barrels of Basra Light at the Iraqi Gulf port Mina al-Bakr.

It said bids preferably should come from refiners, cutting out middlemen who dominated Hussein's sales roster under the now-defunct United Nations oil-for-food program that operated under sanctions.

Under oil-for-food, Iraq exported over 2 million barrels per day, or some 4 percent of globally traded oil. The country aims quickly to reach exports of 1 million bpd.