Japan and Iran have reached a basic agreement under which Tokyo will acquire preferential rights to develop and operate an Iranian oil field, one of the largest in the Middle East, a report said Monday.
Under the agreement the Japanese government and a consortium of private companies will develop the Azadegan oil field near the Iraqi border, which has confirmed oil reserves totalling more than 26 billion barrels, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. It will be Japan's biggest oil development project.
The Azadegan oil field is expected to produce 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day, more than double the daily import volume of 150,000 barrels by Japan's biggest oil producer Arabian Oil Co. Ltd., the paper said.
The agreement will be finalized between Japanese International Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. Zanganeh will accompany Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on a four-day official visit to Japan which starts on Tuesday.
The Azadegan oil project could help Japan secure stable oil production, the paper said. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said negotiations on the issue were still under way but it was too early to speak of an agreement.
"We are still discussing the issue, but I don't know if we can strike a deal," Fukuda told a news conference. But Fukuda later told a group of Japanese journalists: "I think we can make such an agreement since (Iran's leader) will visit for the first time in 42 years."
In February, Arabian Oil lost its drilling rights in Saudi Arabia after the collapse of months-long talks with Riyadh over the renewal of its oilconcession. — (AFP, Tokyo)
© Agenece France Presse
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)