Iran mulls raising stake in Azeri gas field
Iran is studying plans to raise its stake in a number of oil and gas projects abroad, including Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz, a senior energy official says.
“Several fields and projects exist in some countries which are being examined,” Deputy Oil Minister for commerce and international affairs Hossein Zamaninia said on Tuesday.
“Shah Deniz is one of those fields but a final decision has not been made yet,” the IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
Naftiran Intertrade Co, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), holds a 10% stake in the Shah Deniz field, estimated to contain 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.
Production from Shah Deniz in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan began in 2006 but it is undergoing further development in a project worth $2 billion.
BP and Norway’s Statoil each hold 25.5% of shares in the project, with Azerbaijan’s state oil company Socar, France’s Total, Russia’s Lukoil Holdings and Naftiran each owning a 10% stake and Turkish Petroleum the remaining 9%.
The Europeans see the project vital to their bid to cut dependence on the Russian oil amid rising tensions between them. In 2012, European governments lobbied US lawmakers to exempt the project from sanctions on Iran.
Western sanctions forced BP in 2010 to stop production at the Rhum gas field in the North Sea in which NIOC holds a 50% stake. BP owes Iran a debt from the sale of Rhum gas. Iran’s revenues from the field are frozen in an account in London under the sanctions regime.
Iran is also looking to the possibility of buying equity in the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), the country’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohsen Pakayin said in May.
TANAP is projected to carry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year from Shah Deniz II to Europe. Gas delivery through the pipeline, however, is not expected to begin before 2019.