Iraq has joined forces with UAE-based Crescent Petroleum to develop three oil and gas fields in the country.

According to a Reuters report, the Iraqi Oil Ministry had launched three energy contracts with the company to develop the fields.

Earlier in February, Crescent Petroleum signed three 20-year contracts to develop the assets in Iraq’s Basra and Diyala provinces.

Iraqi oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani was quoted by a ministry statement as saying that the contracts are expected to deliver 400 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas within 18 months.

The development of the three fields is expected to increase Iraq’s natural gas production and support its energy sector. It will also enable the Middle East nation to reduce the use of processed gas to generate electricity and stop gas flaring.

Iraq traditionally depends on Iranian gas imports to meet its power grid requirements. However, it is seeking to reduce its reliance on Iranian gas and explore alternative energy sources amid pressure from the US, the news agency added.

Currently, Iraq flares some of the gas recovered from the oil fields due to the absence of processing facilities for domestic use or exports.

In April this year, French energy company TotalEnergies and the Government of Iraq reached an agreement on the $10bn Gas Growth Integrated Project (GGIP). The project involves developing capabilities to enable the recovery of flared gas in three oil fields.