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Russia drafts agreement to tap Iranian oil fields
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Jul 27, 2017

Iran sees imminent non-Western win for energy
Washington (UPI) Jul 27, 2017 - The Iranian government said it scored a win in the energy sector, this time by developing a pipeline that will offset supply disruptions from its neighbors.

Disputes over payment issues in January prompted Turkmenistan to stop sending gas to its southern neighbor, Iran. A report in SHANA, the Iranian energy ministry's official news site, said construction of a natural pipeline to feed the northern mountainous provinces begins next week.

"The much-awaited gas pipeline is going to guarantee the steady supply of natural gas to the regions that experienced harsh winters in the past when neighboring Turkmenistan cut off gas supplies to Iran," the report read.

The terrain in northern Iran makes it difficult to distribute natural gas and other power supplies. Azerbaijan sells natural gas to the northern provinces of Iran in exchange for electricity.

"By launching the natural gas project, Iran will no longer be in need of importing gas from Turkmenistan and, if Ashgabat decides to sever gas supply to Iran, the latter will be faced with no trouble to supply gas to its northern provinces," Hamid Reza, a managing director of National Iranian Gas Co., told SHANA.

Iran's north is isolated from the gas-rich south.

In January, the Iranian Oil Ministry published a list of 29 foreign oil and gas companies that are qualified to take part in any upcoming tenders for exploration and production. The NIOC, a target of U.S. sanctions, said the list represented a "big step" in opening Iranian oil and natural gas fields up to Western investors.

Apart from oil, Iran is one of the largest natural gas producers in the world and said that role could help address energy security needs for a European market wary of Russia's control over gas supply and transit arteries.

The country accounts for about 5 percent of the world total natural gas production and more than 80 percent of its gas reserves are in basins not yet in the development stage.

An agreement with an Iranian engineering services company expressed mutual interest in working in the oil fields of Iran, a Russian energy company said.

Russian energy company Gazprom Neft signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's Oil Industries' Engineering & Construction. The agreement confirms "both companies' mutual interest in combining forces in the preliminary assessment and investigation of the geological potential of oil fields located in the Islamic Republic of Iran," the Russian company stated.

The memorandum came as both sides faced pressure from U.S. lawmakers. On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives, in a 419-3 vote, opted to toughen sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the measure "tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries."

Russia is under pressure from U.S. lawmakers for meddling in elections last year, an accusation the Kremlin denies. Long one of Washington's top adversaries, the House vote was followed by the Iranian launch of a rocket that could carry satellites into low-earth orbit.

On energy matters, the Iranian Oil Ministry published a list in January of 29 foreign oil and gas companies that are qualified to take part in any upcoming tenders for exploration and production. Earlier this month, Gholamreza Manouchehri, deputy for development and engineering at the National Iranian Oil Co., said President Hassan Rouhani has set of goal of signing 10 new development deals by the end of the Iranian calendar year, March 20.

"The parties have agreed to hold joint consultations with the National Iranian Oil Co. on the evaluation, exploration and development of assets offered to investors, and to consider additional opportunities for cooperation in the Islamic Republic of Iran," the Russian company stated. "The signed memorandum of understanding does not grant Gazprom Neft and the OIEC exclusive rights, and does not restrict the company from negotiating and entering into agreements with third parties."

Apart from Russia, which has supplied fuel to Iran's Bushehr nuclear project, European companies are among those expressing interest in tapping Iranian resources. French energy company Total in early July led a consortium in signing the first major contract with Iran in year to help develop parts of the giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.

Philippines to consult ASEAN on joint China sea oil search
Manila (AFP) July 26, 2017
The Philippines tried Wednesday to reassure Southeast Asian neighbours about its proposal to partner with Beijing in oil exploration in the disputed South China Sea, promising to consult them on any plans. President Rodrigo Duterte has softened his predecessor's policy opposing China's claims - which expand to nearly the entire sea - causing alarm among neighbouring Southeast Asian countri ... read more

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