(AFP, TEHERAN )- Oil ministry officials are opposing a bid by one of Iran's richest and most powerful state foundations to help develop the giant South Pars gas fields in the Gulf, a financial newspaper said here Wednesday. The Abrar-e-Eqtesad (eds: correct) daily, citing unnamed sources, said the massive Foundation for the Disinherited is trying to negotiate a contract for later phases of the development of South Pars.
But some ministry experts are arguing that a deal "cannot be signed with firms that have no experience in the sector," the paper said.
Iran last week signed a $3.8 billion buy-back contract with Italy's ENI to develop South Pars in what is believed to be the biggest deal between Tehran and a foreign company since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The deal between ENI and Petro-Pars, an Iranian firm registered in Britain, puts Italy among Iran's leading partners in the energy sector.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh said at the signing ceremony that the deal "opens a new chapter in our relations with a major western firm and opens the way to concluding new oil and gas contracts with Iran."
Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia, estimated at 20 trillion cubic metres (700 trillion cubic feet). The Foundation for the Disinherited controls the extensive holdings of the former shah, who was deposed in the revolution that brought the Islamic clergy to power.
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )