Austrian oil and gas company OMV has announced that its subsidiary, OMV Petroleum Exploration, has signed two production sharing contracts for two exploration blocks with the Kurdistan regional government.

The Mala Omar and Shorish blocks cover approximately 800 sq km and are located in the vicinity of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Both blocks are believed to offer significant potential for major oil discoveries.

Helmut Langanger, executive board member responsible for exploration and production (E&P) at OMV, said: Our entry into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is in line with our strategy and substantially strengthens our E&P core region Middle East. We consider the chance for discoveries in the exploration areas as very probable and are looking forward to strengthening our exploration portfolio.

Work on the awarded blocks will commence in 2008 with the acquisition of 2D seismic and will be followed by the drilling of an exploration well in each block over the next three years.