Thai, Chinese Firms Sign Deals to Develop Iran Oil Fields

TEHRAN, Jun 13, 2005 (Dow Jones News via Comtex)

The National Iranian Oil Co. (NIO.YY) has signed buyback contracts with Thai and Chinese companies on the exploration and development of the offshore Saveh and Kouh-Dasht oil blocks in northern and western parts of the country, an Iranian Oil Ministry official said Saturday at a press briefing.

The Thailand's PTT Exploration & Production company, or PTTEP, was put in charge of Saveh that covers an area 13,800 square kilometers south of Tehran in Central Province, said Mahmoud Mohaddess, director of NIOC's exploration.

He said the contract calls for the Thai company to spend a minimum of $14.5 million on seismological and well-drilling operations, a figure that could go up to $39 million if necessary.

The China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, will undertake the exploration and development of Kouh-Dasht in Lorestan Province, Mohaddess said. The block covers an area 8,240 square kilometers wide.

The Chinese company will have to spend a minimum of $18 million on the exploration and development of the block, which could rise to $51 million.

Mohaddess said the exploration and development period for the contracts is 10 years on which an another 15 years can be added for the return of the contract value and interest.

He said the contracts were signed last week and the contractors will undertake the jobs at their own risk should they fail to find a commercially viable field. The contracts on the two blocks are the first two of a total of 16 newly-defined oil blocks that were put on international tender in the Dutch city of Hague in the course of a two-day conference in January last year.

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