British companies will not meddle with Iranian oil interests in the Caspian Sea, Britain's ambassador to Iran assured top officials on Monday, July 23. "No British oil company plans to conduct operations in the Caspian Sea to which Iran may be opposed," ambassador Nick Browne was quoted saying by the official IRNA news agency.
In particular, Browne told Iran that the privately-owned British Petroleum company (BP) had no intentions of resuming oil drilling in a section of the Caspian Sea, disputed by Azerbaijan and Iran.
"As the United Kingdom attaches great emphasis to avoid misunderstandings, the British Petroleum oil company is not going to resume any oilfield development projects in the waters disputed by Iran and Azerbaijan," Browne was quoted as saying during a meeting with the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Hassan Rowhani.
For his part, Rowhani said Iran would not "permit foreign companies to launch any oil and gas activities within its 20 percent control share over the sea."
Iran had officially protested Saturday to Azerbaijan over its recent oil contracts with foreign, mainly western companies in the Caspian Sea, which both nations border.
The deputy Iranian foreign minister, Ali Ahani, summoned Azerbaijan's charge d'affaires in Tehran to inform him of his country's "strong protest," the television added.
"These contracts are null and without legal value and Iran will not allow its (oil) interests in the Caspian to be harmed," said Ahani, who is in charge of the Caspian shores at the foreign ministry.
Iran often lets it be known that it will not recognize oil exploration contracts and bilateral agreements involving the Caspian, and calls for a definitive regime for the contested inland sea.
Tehran says that only the agreements reached between Iran and the former Soviet Union from 1921 and 1948 are still valid, and that any other arrangement outside those agreements is not acceptable. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )