The Financial Times (FT) reported on September 14th that U.S. independent Conoco Inc. has assisted Iran in developing its giant Azadegan crude field, potentially violating ongoing unilateral sanctions that Washington has imposed on Tehran.
Senior Iranian officials told the newspaper that Conoco helped analyze data collected last year by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) from the Azadegan oil field in the southwestern Khuzestan province on the understanding that the company would be given preference to develop the field once U.S. sanctions were lifted, the FT reported.
The paper quoted Ali Hashemi, deputy oil minister at the time of the alleged cooperation, as saying Conoco “provided the technology to further appraise the volume of oil reserves,” but that he was unaware if the U.S. oil firm had been paid for its service.
“Naturally any company that helps in exploration has priority (in competing for a contract)” the FT quoted Hashemi as saying. The newspaper quoted a Conoco statement as saying: “We have seen seismic data from the field and provided our opinion to NIOC. We do not believe it is in violation of the sanctions.
We looked at the data and provided our opinion on what it showed.”
The 26-billion barrel Azadegan field located near the border with Iraq has estimated recoverable reserves of five to six billion barrels. Late last year, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh suggested that Iran was likely to go it alone in developing the new field, despite considerable interest from international oil firms.
Conoco and other U.S. oil firms have pushed for an end to sanctions that U.S. President Bill Clinton imposed unilaterally on Tehran in 1996 affecting investment in Iran’s energy sector.
“It's no secret that we've maintained a dialogue with NIOC in the hope that U.S. sanctions would be lifted at some point and we would be allowed to do business,” the FT quoted Conoco spokesman Carlton Adams as saying.
( oilnavigator )
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