Iran to offer golden opportunity to Russian and Malaysian oil firms

Jul 06, 2010 02:00 AM

The Iranian oil ministry announced that it plans to invite friendly countries with enough experience in oil and gas exploitation, like Russia and Malaysia, to cooperate with Iran in developing its giant oil and gas fields.
"Once we reach a final understanding, we will certainly invite our friends, like Russia and Malaysia, and other countries which both have friendly relations with Iran and enjoy enough experience and capital for cooperation," Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs Hassan Noqreh-Kar Shirazi told.

Noting that Russians have announced their desire to cooperate in the development of Azar and Changouleh oil fields in southern Iran, he reiterated that Russia has also invited the Iranian companies to cooperate in the development of its oil and gas fields.
"Based on the agreement signed between Iran and Russia a few years ago, we can take part in (the development of) their oil and gas fields," Noqreh-Kar Shirazi said. "The important point is that it is the first time Russia has allowed a country, specially one of its neighbours, to work in its oil and gas fields."

Meantime, he pointed out that Iran has yet no plans for partnership or cooperation in the developmental projects of Russia's oil and gas fields.
Iran is one of the leading members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) as it has the second largest oil and gas reserves in the world. Oil income accounts for 80 % of Iran's foreign currency revenues and 60 % of the nation's overall budget.

Meantime, Iran has been facing a series of US-led sanctions which aimed to deter foreign investments in the country. Washington has also been planning to increase its unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic's energy sector.
Iranian officials have dismissed US sanctions as inefficient, saying that they are finding Asian partners instead. Several Chinese and other Asian firms are negotiating or signing up to oil and gas deals.

Following US pressures on companies to stop business with Tehran, many western companies decided to do a balancing act. They tried to maintain their presence in Iran, which is rich in oil and gas, but not getting into big deals that could endanger their interests in the US.
Yet, after oil giants in the West witnessed that their absence in big deals has provided Chinese, Indian and Russian companies with excellent opportunities to sign up to an increasing number of energy projects and earn billions of dollars, they started showing increasing interest to invest or expand work in Iran.

Some European states have also recently voiced interest in investment in Iran's energy sector after the gas deal was signed between Iran and Switzerland regardless of US sanctions. The National Iranian Gas Export Company and Switzerland's Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg signed a 25-year deal in March 2008 for the delivery of 5.5 bn cm of gas per year.
The biggest recent deal, worth EUR 100 mm ($ 147 mm, £ 80 mm), was signed bySteiner Prematechnik Gastec, the German engineering company, this year to build equipment for three gas conversion plants in Iran.

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