02/27/2008, 00.00
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Iran sells gas to China breaking the West’s embargo

China’s Cnooc will exploit the rich gas reserves in northern Pars. US efforts to isolate Tehran allow China and Russia finalise lucrative deals without any competition. Moscow aims to integrate Tehran’s energy “grill” with its own, to become the sole supplier to all of central Asia.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iran today signed a deal with China National Offshore Oil Corp. (Cnooc) allowing it to exploit petrol reserves in Northern Pars, for an estimated total value of 16 billion dollars.

The deal has been in the making since 2006.  Tehran wants to export Pars gas, with is believed to amount to 2.27 trillion metres cubed of liquid gas.  Over 34 million metres cubed of gas is set to be produced per day.

Iran has the worlds second largest gas reserve after Russia and is second in the world for its quantity of petrol reserves after Saudi Arabia.  Attempts by the United States to isolate the nation, because of its nuclear program, have floundered thanks to the lucrative energy deals between Tehran, Russia, China and other countries.  It is the third major provider of crude oil to China.

Last December China based Sinopec Group., tied to Sinopec Corp., won the management of development in petrol zone of Yadavaran. Recently Russia’s Gazprom gained rights to exploit “two or three blocks” of the Southern Pars reserves, which Iran shares with Qatar and it believed to be the largest in the world.  Given that Gazprom is the main supplier to Western Europe, it is probable that part of this gas will be pumped to Europe,  circumnavigating the West’s embargo.

Despite these rich reserves, currently Iran only exports gas to Turkey and Armenia, a quantity that is equal to only 1% of global exports.  But Seyed Reza Kasaeizadeh, managing director of Iran's National Gas Company, foresees that within the next twenty years it will cover over 10% of global demand.  In the interim it has already began to drill the oilfields of  Azadegan in Khuzestan, which are estimated to contain over 33 billion barrels of crude.  Currently only 25 thousand barrels are produced per day because Iranian technology is dated.  This is why Tehran is in need of other countries’ technology.  It also aims to drill the massive reserves in the Caspian Sea, 6 thousand metres below the sea bed.  Brazil’s Petrobras has expressed it’s interest in the project.

Moscow and Tehran have also signed a “letter of intent” for the construction of a “Energy transmission network”, principally financed by the Russians.  On its completion Iran, already sole supplier to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, will be integrated into the Russian network and the two countries together will be capable of covering demand across Central Asia and the Caucuses.  (PB)


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