Iran and Japan held intense talks over the last month, said the source, adding the two sides are discussing contents of the agreement including price, quota of the Iranian side, taxation and a number of other issues.
"Despite American pressures, the Azadegan oil deal with Japan is nearing finalization," Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh had earlier said, thus dispelling speculation that Tokyo had bowed down to US pressure and pulled out of the venture.
Earlier, news had emerged that Tehran had new oil firms in sight as a deadline for the finalization of a deal with Japan had expired, with Japan reportedly said to be dragging its feet on the 2.8-billion-dollar project.
The Japanese companies have had technical consultations with the Royal Dutch/Shell oil company which would definitely be one of the future partners of the Japan's consortium for the project.
Japan seeks to meet its energy sources for the future. The conclusion of the agreement will guarantee the security of the country's energy supply.
Azadegan in southern Iran is said to be the country's biggest oil field, holding an estimated 26 billion barrels of crude oil. Iran last Monday said that it reserved the right to enter into negotiations with other oil companies for the development of the huge field since Japan had failed to reach a deal up to the deadline which expired at the end of June.
Tehran offered preferential rights to Japanese consortia during President Mohammad Khatami's visit to Japan in 2000 to develop the oil field, which is said to hold the world's biggest undeveloped oil reserves.
Japan in return pledged to grant a three-billion-dollar credit line to Iran over three years.
The London-based Financial Times recently reported that the United States was exerting pressure on the Japanese government to withdraw from the large-scale Iranian oil program.
A US State Department official confirmed that Washington was pressing Japan not to send the `wrong message' to Iran, Financial Times said.
Washington accuses Tehran of seeking to use its nuclear program as a cover for producing atomic weapons -- a charge which the Islamic Republic strongly rejects. Iran says its nuclear program is intended for producing 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 20 years, when the country's oil and gas reserves become overstretched.
The two officials discussed cooperation in various fields between the company and the Iranian side.
Issues such as exploration and expansion of new oil fields figured prominently in the discussions.
Tarasov welcomed cooperation in Iranian projects in "technical fields" and in the area of geo-physics in the north and south of Iran.
Tarasov also expressed hope that the company's response to Iran's proposals will be forthcoming.
The Lukoil chief said his companies' priorities are exploration, exploitation and marketing of oil derivatives.
The two sides also expressed satisfaction with Tehran-Moscow cooperation in oil and gas sector and called for working on joint projects.
... Payvand News - 7/16/03 ... --