Iraq has signed a contract with China’s CNOOC to conduct a seismic survey for two oil exploration blocks, the oil ministry said on Jan. 31.

The survey will include one offshore block in the Gulf and another near the border with Iran, the ministry said in a statement.

The offshore survey would be the first in Iraq’s territorial waters in the Gulf, said ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.

The onshore block near the border with Iran and the offshore block were among six which failed to attract bids from energy companies in a licensing auction held last year.

The oil ministry held an auction for international energy companies, with 11 blocks on offer near the borders with Iran and Kuwait and in offshore Gulf waters.

Iraq has boosted output rapidly in recent years with the help of foreign oil companies. It is OPEC’s second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia.