Two Iranian Oil Companies to Merge

Two Iranian oil companies have decided to merge in an effort to increase the country's production. Petropars and Petro Iran, two of Iran's largest oil companies, announced they will merge, said a report in the Persian-language daily Entekhab. And Niko, an oil company controlled by the Petroleum Ministry, has bought shares in both companies.

The government is eager to expand its oil and gas exploration capabilities, and has appointed Rahim Nejad-Hosseinian to head the merged company, the report said. Iran has said it wants to increase crude output from 4 million barrels a day to 5 million barrels per day by 2005, but it needs foreign cash and technical expertise to finance the expansion.