Iran, Belarus in Deal to Develop Oil Field

A00150941.jpgIran and Belarus Wednesday signed a deal worth an initial 250 million dollars to develop an oil field in southwest Iran, the latest sign of the expanding relationship between the two US foes. The deal to develop the Jofeireh oil field was signed in Tehran by Iranian officials and the president of the Belarusneft oil company, Alexander Lyakov.

Naji Saadoni, the head of Iranian oil projects in the region, told reporters the deal was worth 250 million dollars and then up to another 250 million dollars if Iran’s national oil company agreed to go ahead with a second phase.

The field, which lies in an oil-rich region of Khuzestan province close to the border with Iraq, will supply 15,000 barrels of oil a day in the first phase and then 25,000 barrels should the second phase go ahead, he added.

“We need two to three months to start work as the area still must be cleared of landmines,” from Iran’s 1980-1988 war with Iraq, Saadoni said.

“There are 2.1 billion barrels of oil reserves in the field and we estimate that within the next 25 years through natural extraction 170 million barrels will be extracted,” he said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had agreed the plan to develop the field in May when the Iranian president visited Minsk.

“The signing of this deal today is the result of Iranian and Belarusian efforts,” Lyakov told reporters.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of this negotiation and it is a pillar of the burgeoning ties between the two countries,” he added.

Lukashenko has also visited Tehran and the two countries are seeking to forge an increasingly close relationship based on a shared distrust of the United States.

Belarus has only negligible oil reserves of its own but does have major oil refineries, which are used for processing Russian oil for further export. Iran is the world’s number four oil producer.

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