Iran, Italy to Sign Oil Deal Today

A23431402.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) and the Italian company Edison will sign a contract on the exploration and development of Dayyer Block here today.The two sides are to ink the deal in the presence of Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari.

Dayyer is among the 17 exploration blocks that are based in the Persian Gulf.

The NIOC exploration manager had already announced that the contracts of three exploration blocks would be inked by the end of current Iranian calendar year (March 19, 2008)

“The technical proposals for the three blocks of the total 17 will be finalized within the period,” Seyed Mahmud Mohaddes told reporters, PIN said.

The trio were border Danan block, offshore Dayyer block, and offshore Laleh block, he added.

“A consortium comprising Austrian company OMV, Turkey’s oil distributor Petrol Ofisi, and Iranian company Petropars will be in charge of exploration operations in border Danan block and a consortium consisting of a British company and Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Company (IOEC) will be responsible for exploration of offshore Laleh block,” said the NIOC official.

“All envelopes of technical proposals for the 17 exploration blocks have been opened and are under study by expert groups of the NIOC’s Exploration Department,” Mohaddes said.

Iran is attempting to lure international oil and gas companies to invest despite rising pressure from the US over its nuclear energy program.

Iran has this year been promoting an international exploration tender for 17 onshore and offshore blocks.

The original deadline for receiving offers was June, but the NIOC announced early that month that it was extending the limit by a further month.

Iran’s oil and gas reserves are among the world’s largest, a huge prize for international companies.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defended a gas deal with Iran to carry natural gas to Europe, brushing aside the US criticism that the Islamic Republic is not “reliable”.

“We import oil and natural gas. We want to decrease the amount we pay for imports,” he said.

He said Iran would let Turkey develop three gas wells without a tender process as part of the deal, which would also allow gas to be piped from Iran and Turkmenistan to Europe.

“Iran made us an attractive offer. Should we not think of our country’s interests at this point?” Erdogan said.

A seminar introducing 17 Iranian exploration blocks was held in Vienna, Australia, in early Feb. 2007 and was welcomed enthusiastically by international oil companies.

The 17 oil blocks set aside for simultaneous exploration and development are located in Ilam, Danan, Fassa, Bandar Abbas, Quchan, Kalat, Kavir, Raz, Maraveh Tappeh, Moghan and Naftshahr regions. There are also Alvand, Dayyer, Laleh, Ferdowsi, and Taban blocks, which are located in the Persian Gulf.

The blocks are located in Khorassan Razavi, Northern Khorassan, Semnan, Ardebil, East Azarbaijan, Golestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Fars and Ardebil provinces.

Early estimates show that a total of 450 million Euros should be invested in the blocks and the figure may increase as the results of exploration operations are made known.

Iran and Italian power company Edison were nearing agreement on a deal to pump more than a billion cubic feet of Iranian gas to Europe per day, the Iranian oil minister said.

“We have almost finalized our negotiations with the Italian company Edison,” Gholam Hossein Nozari added.

“Their initial requirement is 1.5 billion cubic feet (42.5 million cubic meters) that they have demanded by the end of 2008. Then it will reach 4.5 billion cubic feet (128 million cubic meters),” he said.

Nozari gave no further details but the quantities appeared to refer to the amounts of gas that Iran would pump to Italy per day.

He has warned European companies they would miss out lucrative projects if they did not move swiftly to finalize deals.

Iran and China’s Sinopec last month signed a two billion dollar contract to develop the Yadavaran oilfield in what was a crucial deal for the Iranian energy industry.

Asked how the gas would reach Italy, Nozari said it would be sent through pipelines across Turkey and then either Greece or Albania.

“Edison will coordinate with the Turkish side themselves. But it should be either Turkey, then Albania or Greece,” he said.

Iran supplies several billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey annually and has signed a preliminary deal with Ankara for exporting gas into Europe, a move bitterly criticized by the United States.

Italy has relatively warm ties with Iran compared with other EU states and several Italian companies are active in the Islamic Republic.

National Iranian Gas Export Co. (NIGEC) Managing Director Nosratollah Seifi said the company had held talks with Italian officials and the two parties would soon sign a memorandum on export of Iran’s gas to the European state.

Talking about the gas transmission route, the NIGEC head added the commodity would pass through Turkey and Greece before reaching the Italian territory.

In the meantime, Khomein Petrochemical Complex and Italian company Basell signed a 20 million euro contract on the transfer of technology.

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