Iran General NewsRussia's Gazprom looks to expand business with Iran

Russia’s Gazprom looks to expand business with Iran

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ImageReuters: The head of Russian gas company Gazprom was in Iran on Sunday looking for new business opportunities after French oil major Total froze investment in a major Iranian field citing political risk.

ImageMOSCOW, July 13 (Reuters) – The head of Russian gas company Gazprom was in Iran on Sunday looking for new business opportunities after French oil major Total froze investment in a major Iranian field citing political risk.

At a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller also discussed strengthening the club of gas exporting nations, Gazprom said in a statement.

The statement said Miller and Ahmadinejad discussed the need for further development of the forum of gas exporting nations "as a permanently acting international organisation".

Some observers describe the gas exporters' forum as a "gas OPEC" that would function as a cartel. Russia has rejected calling it a cartel, denying that the group would control prices and supply.

Total said last week it would not invest for now in a phase of Iran's South Pars field. Earlier this year Royal Dutch Shell pulled out of a phase of the same field.

Iranian missile tests last week heightened concern about the stability of the region.

State-controlled Gazprom, along with Total and Malaysia's Petronas, has been involved in plans to develop South Pars.

Gazprom said in a statement on Sunday that while in Iran Miller met with the Iranian oil minister and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

Gazprom's statement said Miller discussed setting up a joint venture for oil and gas exploration and production in Iran and building transport and refining infrastructure. And it said they discussed Russian gas supplies being sent to northern Iran.

Western states suspect Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, using its civilian nuclear program as a cover. Iran says it has no such plans, and that its nuclear program is designed exclusively to generate electricity.

The United Nations has imposed a series of sanctions on Iran to persuade it to comply with international demands over its nuclear program.

Russia, which holds a veto as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has consistently blocked attempts by the United States and European powers to impose tougher sanctions. (Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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