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Iran vows no back off on Arash field dispute with Kuwait


Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has stressed that Iran will never back off from its national interests toward the issue of Arash gas field that it jointly shares with Kuwait, IRNA reported from Tehran on Tuesday quoting the local press.

The Persian-language newspaper 'Aftab-e Yazd' quoted Zanganeh as saying that Iran and Kuwait have arrived at an agreement through their foreign ministries that no measure is taken in Arash field until the continental shelf is demarcated.

He said Kuwait has started no project in the field, stressing that its current talks with Saudi Arabia (on Arash field) is due to the fact that they share a certain part of the field.

Zanganeh also last week strongly criticized Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for their reported activities to develop Arash field, stressing that any measure to that effect must be stopped.

Speaking to the Persian-language newspaper 'Iran', Zanganeh stressed that he had asked the Foreign Ministry to follow up the issue and see to it that any development in that connection is halted. "The activities of these two countries without Iran's presence is meaningless and must be stopped immediately," he said. "Therefore, the Oil Ministry demands the Foreign Ministry to tackle the issue, and prevent any further measure (over the development of the Arash field)."

However, Zanganeh's protests seemed to have fallen on deaf ear after the Kuwaiti Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said on Saturday that he discussed with his Saudi counterpart "proposals" to develop the disputed field.

Asked whether Iran would retreat from the dispute if Kuwait purchased a great deal of Iran's gas, Zanganeh stressed that Iran would never overlook its national interests.

Still, he said that Iran is considering to export an anticipated daily amount of 300 million cubic feet of gas to Kuwait, adding that the exports will be supplied through the giant South Pars gas field.

The Kuwaiti official on Sunday reiterated that negotiations with Iran on the export of natural gas from South Pars gas field to Kuwait are now in their advanced stages.

Ahmad al-Fahd's remarks were approved on Sunday by the Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Roknoddin Javadi who said Iran would finalize talks on exporting gas to Kuwait from its major South Pars gas field within the next two months.

Javadi told the Persian-language newspaper 'Afarinesh' that Iran and Kuwait are currently debating the issue, stressing that a delegation from Kuwait will arrive in Tehran next month to continue the talks.

He said the amount of Iran's gas exports to Kuwait will be decided upon the agreement of both parties.

Asked from which phase of the South Pars project Iran will export gas to Kuwait, Javadi said this depends on Kuwait's demand of gas.

JAvadi had further stressed that if Kuwait's demand is low, the gas exports will be supplied from the prevailing phases of the South Pars gas project. Otherwise, the NIGC head added, Iran will allocate new phases to this.

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