The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has reportedly asked more international oil companies to consider bidding for the development of the Azadegan oilfield, in addition to a Japanese consortium which is already negotiating a sector, IRNA reported from London.
According to next Monday`s edition of Middle East Economic Survey, the move is designed to divert US pressure on the ongoing talks with the Japanese to link negotiations to the intense debate over Iran`s nuclear program.
The Iranian Oil Ministry believes that widening the scope of the the discussion on the huge Azedegan field will reduce the pressure on Japan by increasing the number of countries which the US would need to win over, the Cyprus-based weekly suggested.
NIOC was said to have invited a handful of European and Asian companies to obtain details of the development and whether they would like to take the talks further.
Russian and China were reported to have offered to take over the dlrs 2.8 billion when it was reported in July that the Japanese consortium was considering suspending negotiations in the face of threatened US sanctions.
Japan`s interest in developing the field with reserves estimated at between 5-6 billion barrels followed its loss of oil rights in Saudi Arabia in 2000.
But the readiness of Russia and China to step in was seen as demonstrating the difficulties faced by the Bush administration in its efforts to halt Iran`s alleged nuclear weapons program through economic sanctions.
At the time, the Financial Times suggested that the loss of Azadegan to China would be a serious blow to Japan because both are competing for energy sources in the Middle East.
... Payvand News - 9/13/03 ... --