Iraq has extended a deadline for international companies to register to bid for a role in developing some of the nation’s prized oil fields, until February 18, the Oil Ministry has confirmed.

Early this month, the Ministry had asked companies to submit by all necessary registration documents to allow them to bid for the oil fields development by the end of January.

“It has been decided to extend the deadline to Feb. 18 instead of Jan. 31, considering the New Year’s holidays and the needed period to prepare theses documents,” the ministry said in a statement.

Iraqi oil officials said recently they hoped to issue tenders to develop the country’s vast oil fields at the beginning of 2008. They said the Oil Ministry was preparing contract models for the first group of oil fields.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry and four international oil firms are gearing up for another round of negotiations scheduled for later this week in Jordan. BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell submitted technical and financial proposals in December for five active fields.

But surely nothing can happen without the passing of Iraq’s controversial oil law and that still has not happened.