But Akbar Ale Age, key negotiator for Iran's energy projects, said he wouldn’t be surprised if it takes up to a year or so to seal a final deal to develop the massive field, believed to be the world's largest.
"I wouldn't be surprised," the official said in response to a recent remark by an Iranian oil official that a deal on Azadegan isn't imminent and could take up to 12 months to be clinched. An initial late June deadline to award the field to a group of Japanese oil firms has already been missed, after Tokyo - under pressure from the US over its interests in Iran - failed to sign a deal on Azadegan.
Since, then Tehran has made no secret that it is free to talk with other foreign oil majors. Both Total and Statoil have confirmed their interest in the project and say they are studying relevant data on developing the southern part of the Azadegan field.
He said other companies from China, India and Russia's Lukoil are also collecting data related to developing the northern part of Azadegan.
The official meanwhile, declined to confirm reports suggesting the total value of the project is more than $2 billion. He said crude reserves at the field are anywhere between 25 and 35 billion barrels.
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