Oil giant Total signs 'secret deal' with Iran for South Azadegan field development
Japan began development of Azadegan oil field but ceased operations as a result of US sanctions against Iran. (AFP/File)
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Tehran and France’s oil giant Total have signed a non-disclosure agreement on the development of the South Azadegan oil field shared by Iran and Iraq.
On Thursday, Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said Tehran and Total have agreed to keep the articles of the accord confidential, adding that the French firm is now “studying its participation in the [development of] the oil field,” which is one of the largest in Iran.
Zangeneh had announced earlier this month that Iran and Total were in talks on the development of the South Azadegan oil field, which is said to hold an in-place oil reserve of about 33.2 billion barrels. He added that a confidential agreement was due between the two sides on the project.
In January, Mahmoud Mar’ashi, the project manager of South Azadegan at Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC), said the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) had discussed the South Azadegan project with Total as well as other European and Asian contractors.
Iran discovered Azadegan oil field in 1999 in what was the country’s biggest oil find in decades.
The country accordingly teamed up with Japan’s Inpex to push the project toward development. However, the Japanese company quit the project as a result of US sanctions against Iran.
The NIOC later divided the project into South Azadegan and North Azadegan. The northern section of the oil field has been awarded to China’s CNPC.
Iran is now seeking foreign investment in the development of South Azadegan after the removal of anti-Tehran sanctions as part of last July’s nuclear deal with the P5+1 – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany.
The country has five joint fields with Iraq, which include North Azadegan, South Azadegan, North Yaran, South Yaran and Yadavaran.
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