BAGHDAD — During an auction of Iraq’s best undeveloped oil fields that concluded Saturday, Baghdad awarded international companies development rights to seven fields that within a few years could nearly double the country’s oil production.
The revenues from production would be critical to helping this oil-dependent country rebuild from the war, but significant obstacles remain to the development of the fields, including continuing violence.
While ExxonMobil and other American-based oil companies registered for the auction, none came away with a development deal on Friday or Saturday. But both ExxonMobil and California-based Occidental Petroleum are part of groups that have recently won oil field deals in Iraq.
After a week during which bombings killed more than 100 people in a single day in Baghdad, the government seized on the auction — conducted under intense security — as an unmitigated success that would be felt for generations.
“Now the Iraqi people can be assured of their future, the futures of their sons and the futures of their grandsons,” said Hussain al-Shahristani, Iraq’s oil minister, who was embattled before the auction for failing to significantly increase the country’s oil production levels, which stands at 2.5 million barrels a day.
Though oil companies have shied away from Iraq because of violence, corruption and the lack of a national oil law guaranteeing that deals would survive changes in government, many of the world’s largest oil firms competed aggressively in the two-day public auction. Two deals were reached Friday, and the rest on Saturday.
The corporations that won represented a diverse group of nations, including Angola, Malaysia, Turkey and China. They were vying for 20-year service contracts that will pay them a fee for each barrel they produce above a government-set baseline.
Despite what are expected to be slim profit margins for the companies, the auction’s biggest winners appeared to be Petronas, a state-owned Malaysian company that was part of three separate consortiums that won the rights to three fields; Sonangol, an Angolan company that will develop two fields; and Lukoil, the Russian oil company, which won the rights to part of the West Qurna field in southern Iraq, the most sought prize of the auction.
In the years since the invasion, Lukoil officials lobbied first the Americans and then the Iraqi government for permission to develop West Qurna, given that the company had signed a contract for the field in 1997 with Saddam Hussein, who later annulled the deal.
Mr. Shahristani said the deals reached at the auction, combined with other recent oil field development deals, put the country on track to increase its oil output from its current level of 2.5 million barrels a day to 12 million barrels a day by 2016, which would surpass Saudi Arabia’s current production.
But that does not account for major hitches in development that could be brought on by technical troubles with the fields, violence and political instability.
The auction, the second since the 2003 United States-led invasion, is likely to be the last for some time, with national elections scheduled for March and political wrangling expected to follow them.
Also on Saturday, Jawad al-Bolani, the minister of the interior, told Parliament during a closed session that his ministry — which includes the Iraqi national police — had received information about terrorism operations planned for last Tuesday, when more than 120 people were killed during a series of coordinated bombings in Baghdad, according to two members of Parliament who attended the session.
Mr. Bolani could not be reached Saturday evening for comment.
The lawmakers, Adel Beck Barwari and Hassan Uthman, said Mr. Bolani told the members that as his officers tried to intercept three vehicles believed to be driven by suicide bombers, the drivers detonated their explosives.
Mr. Barwari said Mr. Bolani reported that the drivers apparently did not reach their intended targets but killed the officers in the explosion.
Duraid Adnan, Sa’ad al-Izzi and Omar al-Jawoshy contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow.
A version of this article appeared in print on December 13, 2009, on page A16 of the New York edition.