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Iran: Global Oil Companies’ Interest In Iran Unaffected By US February 1, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.

VIENNA (Dow Jones)–Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari Thursday dismissed the threat of U.S. pressure on overseas oil companies eyeing expansion in the Islamic republic, saying interest in the country remained strong.

Speaking to reporters shortly after Iran formally offered 17 onshore and offshore oil blocks for development at conference here, Nozari said: “I believe we should and will continue to do our business. Our job is to introduce our production capacity to international oil companies.”

Executives and officials from companies that included China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP), or Sinopec, Norway’s Statoil (STO), Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN), Italy’s Eni SpA (E), France’s Total SA (TOT) and Russia’s Lukoil (LKOH.RS) are in Vienna.

“You see many companies attending this conference. We’re doing our job as usual,” Nozari added. “We have seen no change in response from the companies. We haven’t received any negative response”.

Iran is facing the threat of limited international sanctions agreed by the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 23. The U.S. Navy is sending a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf region next month for the first time since the early days of the Iraq invasion in 2003.

Separately, Nozari, also managing director of the state-run National Iranian Oil Co., insisted Iran had cut some of its output as its contribution to production cuts agreed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia, signed up to cut its daily output by 249,000 barrels in two tranches. The second cut of 73,000 barrels a day was due to bite Feb. 1.

Nozari said Iran has the “production capacity to produce 4.2 million b/d”, though many oil analysts dispute this.

“January production was 4.04 million b/d,” he added, and there would be “more from today,” he added without elaborating.

With an eye toward swelling global crude and product stockpiles and the seasonal downturn in demand that occurs in the April-June quarter, OPEC’s 10 members with quotas, excluding Iraq, agreed in October to cut their output by some 4%, or 1.2 million b/d, to around 26.3 million b/d.

In December, the group met again and tacked on a further cut of 500,000 b/d commencing Feb. 1, lowering output, on paper at least, to 25.8 million b/d.

Nozari said France’s Total should have signed by March an agreement to develop with Malaysia’s state run Petroliam Nasional Berhad, or Petronas, a liquefied natural gas project pivotal to the expansion goals of Iran.

“The schedule says March and Total is on time with this,” Nozari said.

Platts earlier cited National Iranian Gas Exports Co. Managing Director Nosratollah Seyfi as saying on state television that Iran is close to signing the Pars LNG project, intended to produce 10 million tons a year.

The project is part of the LNG initiative by Iran to produce 75 million tons a year in about five years’ time.

By Sally Jones, Dow Jones Newswires


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