The French oil giant TotalFinaElf called on Friday for active participation by Kazakhstan in a project, frowned on by the United States, to transport Kazakh oil to Iran.
"The discovery of oil at Kashagan urges us to carry out research in this offshore field ... but we need the active participation of the Kazakh authorities," said Christophe de Margerie, executive vice president of TotalFinaElf Exploration and Production.
Margerie, who was speaking after a foreign ministry statement, said that Kazakhstan was holding discussions with TotalFinaElf, Agip and BG to conduct a feasibility study for the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran pipeline.
The United States has opposed the link instead lobbying heavily for a route from Azerbaijan to Turkey, avoiding Iran.
But Margerie said: "Among the variants available today are two that are more serious than the others -- the route to the north, (to Russia's Novorossisk) and the route through Turkmenistan to Iran." Kazakhstan has yet to make a final decision on the link.
Margerie said he hoped an agreement about the feasibility study could be made by the beginning of next year. TotalFinaElf is a member of the Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Company (OKIOC) which announced an oil discovery at the Kashagan field in western Kazakhstan in July.
The French oil giant as well as Shell and ExxonMobil are vying to become the single operator of the consortium. Margerie said the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev had expressed support for their bid although he has also supported other potential competitors.
If the firm were to win the operatorship, the pipeline to Iran may become more likely to succeed. However, Margerie stressed that a decision on the operator of the route to Iran and the decision on the operator of the consortium were two separate issues.
A final decision on the single operatorship is expected to be made next year after a vote in mid-December.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)