Iran General NewsINTERVIEW-Turkey considering partnership in Iran gas project

INTERVIEW-Turkey considering partnership in Iran gas project

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Reuters: State-owned Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) is considering working with partners to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field, a project seen worth $3.5 billion, the company’s general manager told Reuters late on Tuesday. By Orhan Coskun

ANKARA, Feb 20 (Reuters) – State-owned Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) is considering working with partners to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field, a project seen worth $3.5 billion, the company’s general manager told Reuters late on Tuesday.

General Manager Mehmet Uysal said it would have to reach an agreement with Iran over any new partners.

“We are thinking of investing (in Iran) with a consortium … We’d have to come to an agreement with Iran over partners. They could be either foreign or domestic,” Uysal said in an interview.

Turkey has insisted on a series of energy partnerships with Iran, despite pressure from the United States to call off the deal. Washington has no diplomatic ties with Tehran and has been pushing for tougher sanctions on countries that invest in Iran because of concerns over its nuclear programme.

Analysts have also called into question the reliability of Iran as a supplier after frequent cuts in natural gas supplies to Turkey.

Uysal also said Brazil’s Petrobras would not be bidding in a new third tender for hydrocarbon exploration in the Black Sea, and that TPAO could take on other partners instead.

“Petrobras … announced that it would not bid for the third (well), in which it was greatly interested. We could enter into a partnership with other companies,” said Uysal.

But Petrobras will work with TPAO in two different drilling sites in the Black Sea, he added.

Romania’s largest petrol firm Petrom, which is 51 percent owned by OMV, told Reuters last year that it was interested in Black Sea exploration.

Off-shore exploration in the Mediterranean is continuing, Uysal said, and rights to drill near Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast could be sold off in a tender in a year and a half.

Turkish exploration in the region has caused outcries from Cyprus, which claims rights to the waters, but Uysal said all drilling would take place within Turkey’s “economic boundaries.”

The general manager said drilling in the Aegean at the Saros Gulf near Istanbul started this month and that production could begin in 2012. He did not specify the amount of reserves estimated at the site, but said expectations were high. (Writing by Thomas Grove; editing by James Jukwey)

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