Reuters: A senior Iranian oil official said on Sunday he was not aware of any plan by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Spain's Repsol to withdraw from a $10 billion natural gas project in the Middle East country.
TEHRAN, May 4 (Reuters) – A senior Iranian oil official said on Sunday he was not aware of any plan by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Spain's Repsol to withdraw from a $10 billion natural gas project in the Middle East country.
Spanish newspaper Expansion on Saturday reported that the two oil majors were negotiating with the Iranian government to pull out of the gas plan due in part to U.S. pressure.
"I have seen nothing official on that and there has been no reference to that in any domestic negotiations," Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director of the National Iranian Oil Company, said when asked about the report.
The Spanish paper said the firms wanted Iran to agree to drop their current development plans for block 14 of the South Pars field but to allow them to bid for other parts of the field in the future if the international political climate improves.
Shell and Repsol had planned to export South Pars gas by ship in liquefied form as part of the "Persian LNG project". Now it is more likely the gas will supply the Iranian market or be exported by pipeline, Expansion said.
Iran sits on the world's second biggest reserves of gas but has been slow to develop exports in part due to U.S. sanctions.
Western firms have become increasingly wary of investing in Iran because of a dispute over its nuclear plans with the West.
The United States and European states say Iran is seeking to master technology to build nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. But its failure to convince world powers has prompted the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran.
The report said Shell and Repsol were trying to help Iran find new partners for the project and that possibilities included Russia's Gazprom, Indian Oil Corp and Chinese companies.
Asian firms, particularly from China and India where demand for energy is surging, have shown more readiness to invest in Iran.
China's Sinopec Group, parent of Sinopec Corp., signed a deal in December to develop Iran's Yadavaran oilfield. India is discussing plans for a pipeline to receive Iranian gas.
Russia, the world's top gas producer, has also been eyeing projects in Iran. State-controlled Gazprom said in February it had agreed to develop more phases of Iran's giant South Pars gas field and drill in some of Iran's oilfields. (Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Editing by Richard Hubbard)