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Iran seeks bids for first post-sanctions oilfield.

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh says the tender process for development of the first post-sanctions oilfield has now begun.

It was believed Iran moved now because a) the presidential elections have passed and b) the Trump suspension of sanctions announced last month has telegraphed to many that the United States will stick by the nuclear deal and not resume harsh sanctions on Iran.

"Right now, the tender for developing the Azadegan field is being carried out," Zanganeh said Monday.

He didn't say if it would be carried out using the new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) matrix. The last announcement by the government said the IPC still had not received all the approvals it needed. Zanganeh did not address the IPC. It is possible that in the aftermath of the elections, the Rohani Administration has decided simply to forge ahead and ignore the criticisms and calls for changes in the IPC that have repeatedly come from hardliners.

The Oil Ministry's letters inviting oil firms to submit bids is being sent to all 29 firms that were pre-approved to bid last year. They include Shell, Total and many other oil giants, but not any American firms, which are barred by US law, or BP, which was originally the Anglo-Persian Oil Co., but has decided it does not want to go back into Iran.

No one has said what is the deadline for bid submissions or when the winner will be announced. It was thus a rather odd announcement, made offhandedly by the oil minister with no formal press release and no story carried by the Oil Ministry's own news service.

Discovered in 1999, the Azadegan oilfield is one of Iran's largest. It is located near the border with Iraq and is estimated to hold 37 billion barrels of oil, which is more than 26 years of output at Iran's current production rate.

Years ago, the contract for development was awarded to Japan's Inpex, which later quit under presumed pressure from the US. The contract was then awarded to CNPC of China, but Iran dumped CNPC years later for lack of activity.

Meanwhile, Total of France announced that it hopes to complete talks with Iran on developing part of the South Pars gasfield before summer begins June 21. Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said earlier that Total was doing nothing until it saw whether Trump would extend the suspension of US sanctions on Iran.

Caption: ZANGANEH ... off and running

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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jun 2, 2017
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