Japan METI: Leaving Iran-Azadegan Oil Talks to Consortium

The Japanese government will take no part in a Japanese consortium's decision on whether to go ahead with bidding for the development of the Azadegan oil field in Iran, Japan's trade minister said Tuesday.

However, the government will be watching the outcome of talks between Iran and Japan on the oil field, said Shoichi Nakagawa, from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"The government will watch closely the consortium's decision from our long- term energy policy's view point," he said.

He was responding to recent reports that Iran has issued a Dec. 15 deadline to a Japanese consortium to decide whether to bid for the development rights to the Azadegan oil field. "We haven't been directly informed (of the Dec. 15 deadline by Iran), but we've indirectly heard about this," Nakagawa said.

The Japanese consortium comprises Inpex Corp., Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., and Tomen Corp.

The consortium obtained preferential negotiating rights with Iran in 2000 for the project to develop the Azadegan oil field, one of the world's largest oil reserves.

However, it missed a June 30 deadline for signing the deal after the U.S. asked Japan to delay signing the contract due to concerns over Iran's nuclear activities.

Iran is now calling on several major international oil companies to bid for developing the Azadegan oil field.