Iran Opposed to Kuwait Developing Disputed Offshore Field

Iran is opposed to Kuwait's proposed development of a disputed gas field until negotiations on demarcating the Iranian/Kuwaiti maritime border are completed, an Iranian foreign ministry official said Sunday.

Kuwait announced earlier this month that it plans to invite international tenders to develop the disputed offshore gas field in cooperation with Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, which remains in talks with Iran over demarcating its maritime border, calls the disputed gas field Dorra while Iran calls it Arash.

"Not until the issue over Arash is terminally clarified does any country have the right to exploit it," said Hamid-Reza Asefi, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman. Assefi said any measures to develop the field will face official diplomatic protest from Iran.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said last week that, based on an agreement between the two countries' foreign ministries, neither has the right to start development without the consent of the other party.

Dorra was first discovered in November 1967 and drilling of six exploratory wells then proved commercial reserves of gas and condensates at the field.

Recoverable gas reserves at the field are estimated at around 7 trillion cubic feet with a potential production capacity of 600 million cf to 1.5 billion cf a day.

Saturday, the oil ministers of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who delineated their borders in 2001, met in Riyadh to discuss the best ways of carrying out development programs at the offshore Dorra gas field.

State-run National Iranian Oil Co. has shrugged off the announcement on the development of Dorra, arguing that no international company will get itself involved in a disputed field.