Gazprom Neft Keen to Invest in Iran’s Oil Sector

TEHRAN (FNA)- Gazprom Neft, Russia’s fifth largest crude oil producer company and the oil arm of gas export monopoly Gazprom, has voiced interest in developing oil fields in southern Iran.

Displaying an interest to win the Iranians’ consent on its wholesale participation in developing the fields, Boris Zilbermints, Deputy General Director of Gazprom Neft, was quoted by press tv as saying that “we have asked the Iranian government to consider both parts of the South Azadegan field together”.

South Azadegan oil field, divided into northern and southern parts, is located 62 kilometers west of Ahvaz in Iran’s southern province of Khouzestan.

On Tuesday, Zilbermints told a conference in Moscow that his company was currently in talks on northern Azadegan with its Iranian partners, according to Iran’s daily Tehran Times.

He was quoted as saying that his company had already begun drafting a development plan for the oil field in December, looking to complete it within 9 months.

Although the Iranian license holder for the field, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), will enjoy a joint project with Gazprom Neft to develop the fields, the Russian crude oil producer will have to provide 100 percent of investment in the project.

“The Russian oil producer estimates North Azadegan’s recoverable reserves at around 150 million tons of oil and maximum annual output at some 5.5 million to 6.5 million tons,” Zilbermints said.

Iran, which sits on the world’s second largest reserves of both oil and gas, is facing US sanctions over its civilian nuclear program.

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.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

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, many western firms are increasingly showing interest to invest or expand work in Iran.

Some European countries have also recently voiced interest in investment in Iran’s energy sector after a 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 for the delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The biggest recent deal, worth €100m ($147m, £80m), was signed by Steiner Prematechnik Gastec, the German engineering company, this year to build equipment for three gas conversion plants in Iran.

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