Tehran has signed a $440 million contract with a local company to develop the Belal gas field Iran shares with Qatar. The country’s oil minister has celebrated the deal as a sign that no US sanctions can stop Iran’s oil industry.
The contract was signed between Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC), a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and local development company Petropars.According to Iran’s Shana news agency, POGC will serve as the employer of the contract, making reservoir studies and performing sideline licensing for the purposes of the project. Petropars, in turn, is to drill eight wells in the offshore oil field, build and install a gas production topside and construct a 20 kilometers (12 miles) seabed pipeline.
Under the contract, in 34 months the oil field is to produce 500 million cubic feet (the equivalent of 14 million cubic meters) of rich gas a day. The produced gas is to be processed at the onshore refinery of South Pars Phase 12.
The Belal gas field is located in the Persian Gulf east of South Pars, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of Lavan Island.
“This contract and other upcoming contracts show that we are working under the sanctions. From now on, we plan to sign one contract and set in motion one development plan every two weeks and we will show that the development of the country’s oil industry has not stopped [and] we are active,” Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said at the contract signing ceremony on Saturday, emphasizing that the country’s energy sector is alive and kicking despite US sanctions.
“We showed that US cannot bring our exports to zero. We will not announce our measures regarding oil exports since they will make enemies more vigilant,” he added. The minister predicted Iran’s petrochemical production to hit above 100 million tons in the near future.
US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, and then restored crippling economic sanctions on Tehran, targeting mostly the oil industry, vital for Iran’s economy, in what it dubbed a “maximum pressure campaign” to force Tehran to curb its missile and nuclear programs.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have since deteriorated, with the sanctions accompanied by a military buildup in the Persian Gulf. On June 7, Washington imposed yet another set of sanctions on Iran’s largest petrochemical holding, Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries, as well as more than 30 of its subsidiaries and branches. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US “intends to strip away the key elements of the Iranian petrochemical sector.”
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