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Iran must sort out China’s role in South Pars gas field: Minister


Iran’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has said that the country is seeking to put an end to ambiguities surrounding China’s presence in a major investment project in South Pars gas field.

Zanganeh told the Iranian state TV late on Sunday that Iran had rejected a request from China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) to suspend operations in phase 11 of South Pars, a project where the Chinese company has currently an 80-percent share of investment. 

“We have to sort out the issue with this country (China), it has to either pull out of the contract, which if so, its share would be transferred to Iran’s Petro Pars,” said Zanganeh, adding that a decision on the issue is due at the highest level of the Iranian government. 

The CNPC became the dominant investor in plans for expansion of South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, after France’s Total withdrew from the project last summer under increasing pressure from the United States.

Iran has managed to expand other phases of the gas field, which is shared with Qatar, on its own, putting billions of dollars in investment and using the expertise existing inside the country.

Zanganeh said earlier this year that Iran’s gas production at the offshore field had hit 610 million cubic meters per day and that Iran’s share of daily production at the field had exceeded that of Qatar.

In his TV interview, Zanganeh expressed hope that Iran and China could find a friendly solution on CNPC’s role in South Pars phase 11.

“China is a friend of Iran and the latter would not opt for severing ties for foot-dragging in projects. We are seeking alternative solutions,” he said. 

The minister said that Iran would pump an extra 80 million cubic meters per day of gas to its national grid until March this year, saying the amount would be equal to current production in three phases of South Pars.

In the interview, Zanganeh also touched up Iran’s declined oil exports, which has come as a result of US sanctions, saying he was very optimistic that crude exports would increase.

“Currently we are doing our best to defeat the enemies and overcome the current problems in oil sale,” he said, adding “I am very hopeful that our oil exports will improve.”

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