Iraq has begun a tender process for the running of its oil and gas fields. This will enable foreign companies to get a foothold in the country for the first time in more than 35 years.Eight initial contracts are up for grabs, with promises that Iraq could hold some of the world’s largest untapped energy reserves. Among the deals is a BP-led contract to develop the biggest oilfield, Rumaila, in the south. This after an Exxon Mobil-led group rejected the government’s proposed per barrel fee. Half a dozen oil fields and two gas fields are the first to go up for tender. Observers say the companies are wading into controversy, however, with some Iraqi lawmakers condemning the auction of contracts as illegal. Some in the state-run industry also say Iraq’s vast oil wealth is being sold short.