Iranian Oil Official to Head to China

196318.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The head of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is scheduled to pay a visit to energy-hungry China next week to broaden cooperation, the Oil Ministry said on Thursday.

Seifollah Jashnsaz, managing director of state-owned NIOC, will travel to China on Monday at the invitation of Chinese officials, the Oil Ministry’s news website Shana reported without giving details about how long the visit would last.

He will be holding talks with senior officials from China’s international oil companies.

“They will speak about improving cooperation in the energy sector, Chinese help for Iran in improving oilfield recovery rates, the sale of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China and China’s presence in the South Pars gas field,” the Shana report said.

Jashnsaz will be accompanied by senior NIOC officials including Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, vice president for investment affairs at NIOC.

The two sides will sign a memorandum of understanding if agreement is reached on issues up for discussion, Shana said.

China and India are both major investors in Iran’s oil and gas sector.

China’s state-backed offshore oil company CNOOC is negotiating a $16 billion deal to develop a gas field and build an LNG terminal. India’s ONGC is awaiting Iran’s nod on a $3 billion plan for the Fars oil and gas block.

Iran, which sits on the world’s second largest reserves of both oil and gas, is facing US sanctions over its civilian nuclear program. Sanctions are increasingly deterring Western investors from running activity in Iran. But Iranian officials say 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 signing up to an increasing number of energy projects and earn billions of dollars, many western firms are slowly losing reluctance to invest or expand work in Iran.

Iran is negotiating an exploration deal with Asian oil companies for two oil and gas blocks in the Caspian Sea.

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