Iranian parliament gives go-ahead for largest oilfield
The Iranian parliament Sunday gave the go-ahead for foreign investors to develop the country's richest oilfields in the Azadeghan area of southwest Iran.
The move, approved despite the opposition of several conservative deputies, authorizes the oil ministry to sign "buy-back" contracts worth $2.8 billion in foreign investment for the development of the Azadeghan fields.
The fields hold some 26 billion barrels of crude and are considered to be Iran's largest and among the biggest in the world, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangheneh told parliament.
He said the fields can produce some 300,000 barrels per day. Reformist MP Mohsen Safai-Farahani, who was presenting the budget, said Iran must increase its output capacity to five million barrels per day (bpd) over the coming years.
"That is why the country needs foreign investment," he said. The government budget for the Iranian year 1380, from March 2001 to March 2002, is the last of the initial four-year term of President Mohammad Khatami and has provoked lively and critical debate from conservatives, who condemn a "lack of transparency and partisan leanings" in the bill.
Also approved in the government's budget plans was a hike in the pump price of petrol (US: gasoline) at state-subsidized stations from four to five cents a liter, the press reported Sunday.
Iran is the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), pumping 3.7 million barrels a day, of which two million is exported.
The reformist-dominated legislature has already given general approval of the budget plan, and is now debating the details in a process expected to last several more days.
The parliament is also expected to cut $28 million from the state media budget but a deputy was quoted last week as saying the cut would follow an expected rise in state radio and television revenues.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)