Statoil Signs Agreements With NIOC
Iranian National Oil Co. (NIOC) and Norway’s Statoil signed agreements covering exploration and development in Iran’s Gulf waters, according to reports on November 22nd.
Officials from the two state oil companies signed four cooperation agreements on November 20th, with Norwegian Oil Minister Olav Akselsen and top officials from Statoil and Norsk Hydro visiting Tehran to discuss investment opportunities.
A Statoil spokeswoman said that: “We have decided to focus our international activity into fewer areas and to build substantial size in those areas. We now have great hopes that Iran is going to be a future core area for us.”
The Norwegian foreign ministry had lifted restrictions on investing in Iran in July 1999, after the renewal of full diplomatic ties between the two countries, prompting Statoil to revise its investment strategies in the Middle East.
The four agreements cover exploration in the Straits of Hormuz and the Iranian portion of the Oman Sea, the development of a gas-to-liquids technology program, assistance in managing four crude-producing fields, primarily in the area of enhanced oil recovery, and possible participation in the development of the Salman field under Iran’s buyback scheme.
Statoil is the latest in a string of foreign oil companies involved in Iran’s oil sector in spite of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), which prohibits investment of more than $200 million in the country.
Italy’s Eni defied sanctions on July 27th, signing a $3.8 billion deal for the development of the fourth and fifth phases of the giant South Pars natural gas field. TotalFinaElf and Royal Dutch/Shell have also signed major exploration and production deals with NIOC.