Iran and Japan open to US investment in Azadegan oilfield

Feb 27, 2004 01:00 AM

Iran and Japan are open to eventual US investment in a controversial project to tap the Islamic Republic's giant Azadegan oilfield, a top Iranian oil official said. Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran's OPEC governor, said that Japanese negotiators suggested the possibility of "reserving shares" for a US partner during talks for the $ 2 bn contract awarded to Japan's Inpex.
"During the course of discussions for Azadegan, the Japanese were thinking of the possibility of an American company eventually joining the project," he said.

They wanted to know whether Iran would accept US investment and whether it was willing to release part of its holding in the scheme, Kazempour added.
"We said we are willing to relinquish or release proportionately to any third parties, including American companies, based on the contract," he said. "We are open to US companies joining Azadegan." The Japanese government-backed Inpex agreed to develop the southern half of the field, one of the world's largest untapped finds, after nearly four years of talks. It holds 75 % of the package, Iran the remainder.

The United States was quick to express its disappointment over the Azadegan contract, but the Iranian source said it only went ahead after Tokyo's "close friend" gave it the green light.
Washington had pressured its key Asian ally Japan to back off from investing in Iran because of the country's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge.

Source: Gulf Daily News
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