SINAN SALAHEDDINBAGHDAD (AP) ¿ A consortium led by Russia's private oil giant Lukoil on Tuesday signed an initial deal with Iraq to develop one of its biggest oil fields, an agreement key to the war-ravaged nation's efforts to boost the output of a resource crucial to its postwar reconstruction efforts. Lukoil had partnered with Norway's Statoil ASA to bid to develop the 12.88 billion barrel West Qurna Phase 2 field, the crown jewel of the 15 fields offered during Iraq's second postwar oil licensing round held earlier this month. Under the 20-year deal which is slated to be ratified Thursday by Iraq's Cabinet, the companies plan to produce 1.8 million barrels per day in 13 years and will be paid $1.15 per barrel of crude they produce from the southern field. Lukoil's vice president of strategy and business development, Dmitry A. Timoshenko, hailed the signing as an important step forward in its work with the Iraqi government. "Now we are waiting for the other legal procedures to be completed," Timoshenko said. "We hope that these procedures will be concluded soon so that we can start our work as soon as possible." For Iraq, the deal marks a crucial step forward in the country's so-far faltering bid to raise oil output.