15 Oil, Gas Projects to Be Put to Tender

A01528088.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – The National Iranian Oil Company is to propose 15 project packs to the global market for investment.

The projects will be tendered both locally and internationally.

NIOC Managing Director Seifollah Jashnsaz said of the 15 packages, ten will be oil and gas projects, most of which are up for tender next month. Interest has come from European and Asian companies and the projects have already received repeat inquiries.

The projects come after 3 billion barrels of in-situ oil discoveries were made in 4 new oil fields, since the start of the Iranian calendar year. The US has been pressuring Europe not to invest in Iran in an effort to force Tehran to stop progress in civilian nuclear technology.

Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, will use domestic capability to complete the projects avoided by certain western companies.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismisses West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.

Iran has also dismissed the impact of Western firms quitting and says it has enough of a cash pile from windfall oil earnings to carry out projects on its own and says it will find other firms particularly from energy-hungry Asia to invest.

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 signing up to an increasing number of energy projects and earn billions of dollars, many western firms are now losing reluctance to invest or expand work in Iran.

Oil giant Shell is an example. Despite western media reports about a total halt of activities in Iran by the company, Shell has announced that it is still working on its Persian LNG project, also based on the South Pars gas field.

Analysts view US-led sanctions against Iran and geopolitical factors as among the main causes of recent hike in oil prices, saying that fears of a new Middle East conflict are behind the new high for oil prices.

Market analysts, specially those from consumer nations, take Bush administration responsible for the price hikes during the last year, saying that these are frequent sanctions and the “rumors of US and Israeli action against Iran circulating in the markets” that affected oil and the dollar.

Analysts also believe that the US will be hit by further oil price rises due to the dispute with Iran and the threat of storms in the US Gulf.

Iranian officials blames sanctions that have been imposed against Tehran as a major contributory factor to the rise in prices.

Iran and other OPEC members also stress that the market is well-supplied and that factors beyond their control, such as speculation, a weakening US dollar, inadequate refining capacity and geopolitical tensions are behind the drive in crude oil prices.

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