Companies Vie for Iran Gas Project

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Sat Dec 2 11:19:19 MST 2000

Sunday November 19 12:36 PM ET
Companies Vie for Iran Gas Project

By CAMELIA FARD, Associated Press Writer

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - U.S. companies hoping that the newpresident
will lift some sanctions on Iran have asked to be considered for a
project to develop Iran's largest natural gas field, the country's oil
minister said Sunday.

U.S. sanctions in place since 1979 currently bar American companies from
taking part in large energy projects in Iran.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the American companies
had asked to be put on a list of candidates to develop the South Pars
field in the Persian Gulf, which holds 7 percent of global gas reserves.

 ``U.S. companies were shortlisted for the South Pars project at their
request.  I do not want to name them,'' he said in an interview with The
Associated Press on the sidelines of the seventh International Energy
Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

``There is a long way between a company being shortlisted and before it
offers a proposal for a project. But these companies tell us they are
waiting for the outcome of U.S. elections,'' Zanganeh said. Iran
recently invited national and international tenders for four phases of
the South Pars project.

Iranian officials have privately said they think the sanctions, imposed
after the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, will be lifted if
George W. Bush (news - web sites) becomes the next president. Bush has
had long ties with big U.S. oil companies, which have been lobbying for
a lifting of the sanctions.

``The sanctions don't affect us anymore, because we can get what we want
from elsewhere. The sanctions affect U.S. companies, not us, although I
admit that for a time we were affected by them,'' Zanganeh said.

European companies had long abided by the sanctions, fearing U.S.
reprisals if they didn't. But when Washington banned American oil giant
Conoco from taking part in a $2 billion project in Iran, France's Total
moved in. Since then several European companies have signed multibillion
dollar projects with Iran.

U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson told the AP Saturday that he
expected the Democrats to continue sanctions if Al Gore (news - web
sites) became president. But he refused to comment on what a Republican
administration might do.

Consumers at the forum, including the United States, have urged
producers to increase oil production to ease prices of more than $30 a
barrel. Richardson said that the United States favored a price between
$20 and $25 a barrel. Secure future supplies has also been a main demand
of consumers at the forum.

On Saturday, Zanganeh suggested that sanctions were to blame for the
market instability that has resulted in the wild oil price swings of the
past three years. Richardson said he disagreed. Iran, Libya and Iraq,
which all have large oil reserves, have been hit by U.S. sanctions.

Iran's oil industry is in dire need of modernization, an Iranian oil
ministry expert at the forum said. At some fields for every barrel
produced, one was wasted because of outdated equipment, he said,
speaking on condition of anonymity.


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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