Iraq Nears First Major Oil Service Deals

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Baghdad (AP) Iraq's oil ministry says Baghdad is close to signing deals with several major western companies in an effort to boost its output capacity.

They'd be the first major Iraqi contracts with big western companies since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The deals, once signed, are something of a stopgap measure to help Iraq begin to increase production. The government is still trying to approve a new national oil law but it's being held up by political squabbles among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

The deals could also mark the beginning of an important long-term toehold by big western companies into Iraq's potentially lucrative oil industry. The deals would give the western firms a bidding advantage over other companies in the future.

Iraq's oil ministry spokesman would not name the companies.