Iran has started developing Azar oilfield which is shared by Iraq, the deputy oil minister announced here on Saturday.
Mohsen Khojastemehr told the Mehr news agency that by the end of the current calendar year (to end March 21, 2011) decisions on development of all the joint oil and gas fields with neighboring countries will be taken.
According to a pre-defined plan, development operations in the joint fields are in the pipeline, he said.
To complete the development operations by the end of the fifth five-year development plan (2015) some 50 billion dollars investment is needed, Khojastemehr added.
'We won't wait for foreigners'
The deputy oil minister emphasized that the oil ministry has adopted a policy to take decision on the situation of joint fields in the short-run and not to sit for elongated negotiations with foreign companies.
The master development plan (MDP) of the Azar oilfield has been prepared, he said, adding that talks are underway with a number of domestic and foreign companies to invest in the development plan.
He also said that drilling operations at the oilfield will be kicked off in the near future.
It had been previously announced that the Azar oilfield development plan would cost around 1.4 billion dollars and that the early production of 20,000 barrels of crude per day will start by March 2012.
The Azar joint oilfield is located at the Anaran block, west of Iran, and its total reserves along with the Iraqi side, which is called Badra, is estimated to be 400 million barrels.
Once the development plan is completed, the oilfield will produce 50,000-65,000 barrels of light crude per day for a period of 25 years.
An official source with Iraq's oil ministry said in May the ministry is currently developing several oilfields shared with neighboring countries, Iraq-businessnews website reported.
The Iraqi oil ministry has developed a part of the Badra field and has extended an invitation to the Iranian side to develop the Azar field in its territory.
Iraq, after signing 20-year production contracts with a host of international oil companies in 2009 to boost its laggardly output, announced October 4 that it upgraded its oil reserves from 115 billion barrels to 143.1 billion.
That was a 24 percent hike, which vaulted Iraq over Iran in the reserves standings and put it behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in terms of conventional oil reserves.
A week later, Tehran responded by boosting Iran's reserves from 138 billion barrels to 150.3 billion, a 9 percent increase, and said the figure was likely to go up again before the end of the Iranian year in March 2011.
That put Iran back up there as having the second highest reserves after Saudi Arabia.
Iran's current output, despite U.S., UN and EU sanctions, is pegged at 3.7 million barrels per day while Iraq's stands at around 2.4 million bpd.
It is production levels that determine OPEC's pecking order rather than reserves, although Iraq is believed to have as much as another 100 billion barrels of oil in untapped reservoirs.
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