Iran to Test First Locally Built Semisub

Iran will test its first locally constructed semisub, Iran Alborz, in the Caspian Sea in the first half of the next Iranian calendar year (starting March 21, 2007), said an official of the National Iran Oil Company (NIOC) Friday afternoon.

Iran is currently in the final stages of construction of the rig in the northern city of Neka in Mazandaran province, said the NIOC's Deputy Managing Director Mohammad-Javad Asemipour on the sidelines of a local oil drilling exhibition in the southern city of Ahvaz.

He added that expert teams of the Iran Marine Industrial Company (Sadra) are working on the 250 to 260-million-dollar project which Asemipour believes would greatly boost development of Iran's northern region after it goes into operation.

Construction of the rig will greatly boost oil swaps between Iran and neighboring states which in turn will bring further development to the northern parts of the country, said the official. He added that oil swaps between Iran and its Caspian Sea neighboring states currently stand at 130,000-140,000 barrels per day (b/d) and reach a maximum of 200,000 b/d at best times. Asemipour expressed hope the semisub, once it becomes operational, will raise the volume of oil transferred to the Caspian Sea area to 500,000 barrels per day.

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