Friday, 18 March 2011

Iran: Azar handed to domestic contractors

Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) managing director Naji Sa'douni announced that Iran will not wait for Russia's Gazprom to develop the Azar oil field and that a $1.5 billion contract will soon be signed with an Iranian consortium instead.

In late October 2009, PEDEC had signed an MoU with Gazprom Neft for the potential development of Azar and Changuleh fields, giving the Russian company a three-month deadline to offer a development plan.

Industry insiders say that Gazprom Neft's offer to develop the Azar field was not given in good faith. Because Gazprom was also working on developing the Iraqi side of the field, namely Badra, its offer to Iran was made to gain an advantage in negotiations with Iraq and to gain access to Iran's information on the field.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Gazprom has not initiated the project and that Iran is seeking to hand it over to domestic contractors.

Also significant, however, is that technocrats within the Ministry of Petroleum and NIOC have always hesitated to sign a development contract with a Russian company – considering that Russian technology would be inferior to what the projects would require.

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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