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BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq has signed a deal with a U.S. company to tap natural gas in one of its southern oil fields, a step toward exploiting a natural resource that has been neglected for decades.

Iraq has long flared much of its natural gas, a byproduct of pumping crude oil, because of a lack of infrastructure. But the Memorandum of Understanding signed Monday would allow Orion Gas Processors to capture and process up to 150 million cubic feet per day of associated gas from the Nahr Bin Omar field.

Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaib described the agreement as an “important step” to “end the wasting of resources.”

The field has a current daily output of more than 40,000 barrels of oil and 25 million cubic feet of gas.