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Iran's Zanganeh: OPEC not likely to change output quotas in Cairo

Tehran, Dec 6, IRNA -- Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in Tehran on Monday that OPEC is unlikely to change oil production quotas in its Cairo meeting on December 10.

"I think the current production ceiling will be maintained at the Cairo meeting and the discussions will mostly focus on the compliance of the OPEC members with their quotas," he said on the sidelines of an international conference titled 'Iran and the Middle East Oil and Gas Forum'.

Zanganeh touched on the falling oil prices, saying, "OPEC members must be sensitive to the downward trend of oil prices."

Crude prices slumped to a three-month low at the end of last week including a six-dollar fall over just two days.

However, they rebounded Monday as markets braced for a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Cairo on Friday.

US light crude traded 68 cents higher at $43.22 a barrel by 0945 GMT, climbing away from last Friday's $42.05 trough, the weakest price since August 31, according to Reuters news agency.

In London the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for January delivery gained 42 cents to 39.78 dollars a barrel.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zanganeh touched on the outcome of his talks with his Indian counterpart Mani Shankar Aiyar, who is in Tehran to salvage an LNG-for-oil field deal.

"Negotiations still continue," Zanganeh said, adding, "activities in the LNG market is different from the oil's and require lengthy talks."

In the last round of talks in Tehran late last month, Iran offered to sell 7.5 million tons of LNG to India at a price linked to Brent crude oil, according to the Indian media reports.

It also doled out one more oil field to Indian firms to make New Delhi accept the LNG price that came to over $4 per million British thermal unit at current crude oil prices.

They said Indian Petroleum Secretary SC Tripathi, who led the Indian delegation, refused to accept the Iranian formula, which arrived at the free-on-board price of LNG by taking 0.065 per cent of the prevailing Brent crude oil price and adding a fixed cost of $1.20 per million British thermal unit (mbtu).

At the current Brent crude oil price of over $45 a barrel, Iranian LNG will cost $4.125 per mbtu, over 60 per cent higher than $2.53 per mbtu price New Delhi is paying Qatar to buy a similar quantity of LNG.

After returning from Tehran, Tripathi said, "There was no agreement on the LNG price though the two countries reached an accord on developing the Yadavaran oil field, which Iran was offering to Indian companies to get New Delhi to buy 5 million tons of LNG."

Additionally, Iran offered the Juffair oilfield but wanted New Delhi to buy 7.5 million tons of LNG.

Officials, who accompanied Tripathi to Tehran, said the import of LNG from Iran was a distant possibility, considering the price factor. "You can take that Iran deal is as good as gone."

Aiyar, however, did not say what his stand would be on the LNG price. The latest Iranian formula links the gas price to movement in Brent crude oil price and Iranian LNG will equal the Qatari price only when the Brent price falls to $20 a barrel, a scenario not likely in the near future, the reports said.

Tehran had last offered 20 per cent stake in the 300,000 barrels per day Yadavaran oil field to get New Delhi to buy 5 million tons a year of LNG for 25 years, and then offered 100 per cent development rights on the Juffair oilfield, which could produce 30,000-40,000 barrels per day, an Indian official said.

In both Yadavaran and Juffair oil fields, ONGC Videsh will get a fixed rate of return on the capital it invests in bringing the fields to production.

As per the Iranian law, no ownership of oil by foreign firms is allowed and only a fixed rate of return is given to companies investing in oil exploration and production. With that money, the investing company may choose to buy oil.

The 20 per cent equity was equivalent to 60,000 barrels per day of oil.

... Payvand News - 12/6/04 ... --

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