TEHRAN Sep 4, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)
French energy giant Total has joined Iran's National Iranian Oil (NIO.YY) and a consortium of Japanese firms led by Inpex in the development of its giant Azadegan oil fields, an Iranian oil official Saturday.
"It's finalized - Total is joining the process with anywhere from a 12% to 15% stake in the project," the source told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of an industry event. The source was speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The deal has been finalized with the respective oil companies and now they just have to ratify it between Japan and Iran," he said referring to an official agreement on a heads of state level.
No Total officials were available to comment on the deal.
The Iranian oil official also added that the Japanese consortium and the National Iranian Oil Co., or NIOC, had reached agreement on increasing investment in the project to $1.943 billion from $1.026 billion.
Disagreement over spending had stalled progress on the deal since it was signed in 2004.
The news that Total is coming onboard for the giant project comes as the U.S. continues to push for sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions after it failed to meet a U.N. deadline of Aug. 31 to halt atomic work.
In the past, Japan has been reluctant to include oil in the economic sanctions that the U.N. could impose on Iran.
The five permanent members of the U.N. security Council - the U.S., France, China, Russia and the U.K. - along with Germany are due to meet over the next week to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions on Iran.
Azadegan oil field, located in southeastern Iran, near the border with Iraq, is estimated to contain 26 billion barrels of oil reserves. Inpex has a 75% stake in the $2 billion development project, while state-owned NIOC holds the remaining 25% stake.
Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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