Their share price may being pummeled, but there is some small good news for the beleaguered oil companies. At a meeting in London, Iraq will provide the oil majors with details of the service contracts under which it hopes the companies will help boost the country’s oil output.

At a meeting on Monday, a delegation led by Iraq’s oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani, will present prequalified companies with geological data on the fields, as well as details on the financial terms of the contracts and the process for applying.

Although Shell, and BP helped the Iraqis appraise the fields, the Iraqis maintain that all companies will compete on an equal basis.

The contracts on offer are service contracts, which mean the winners will be paid a flat fee to produce the oil rather than receive an equity stake in the fields or any share of profits. Forty-one companies, including most of the big international oil companies, have qualified to bid. Iraq wants the deals finalized by mid-2009.

By then, will there be any banks left to offer loans to develop the fields?