Iran is still negotiating with Japan over the development of the giant Azadegan oil field while the French oil group Total and Norway's Statoil have announced that they would attend a limited tender that Iran is going to hold over the project, an oil official said in Tehran on Saturday, IRNA reported.
Ali-Akbar Vahidi Al-Aqa, the director of the Engineering Department of the National Iranian Oil Engineering and Development Company (MATN), told reporters that together with Total and Statoil, the Italian oil major Eni as well as Royal Dutch Shell had also voiced readiness to participate in the tender.
Al-Aqa said, however, that Shell had withdrawn its tender because it had formed a partnership deal with Japanese oil corporations for the development of Azadegan.
He also said that Eni had also withdrawn its bid on the grounds that it could not afford the project.
Al-Aqa stressed that MATN would accept the companies that have withdrawn their bids to participate in the tender again, stressing that this was part of the company's policy to serve the interests of the country.
He said MATN would provide Statoil and Total with technical data about Azadegan oil field within the next week, adding that the companies would accordingly start surveys over the project.
Al-Aqa said Iran has never stopped negotiations with Japanese companies over Azadegan project, adding that Iran-Japan talks on the project over the past months focussed on technical and financial issues.
Tehran had offered preferential rights to a Japanese consortia during President Mohammad Khatami's visit to Japan in 2000 to develop Azadegan -- Iran's biggest oil field -- for 2.8 billion dollars.
Japan in return had pledged to grant a three-billion-dollar credit line to Iran over three years. However, it has not yet reached a deal with Iran to the effect after the deadline expired at the end of June.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh in September said that Iran has cancelled Japan's preferential rights of Japan to develop Azadegan oil field, stressing that the measure had been taken "long ago" when the deadline for the deal was over.
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