U.S. firms hoping for piece of Iranian gas field if sanctions lifted

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Energy digest-21 Filed: 11/21/2000

U.S. firms hoping for piece of Iranian gas field if sanctions lifted

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) U.S. companies hoping that the new president 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 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 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.

U.S. retail gas prices fall to $1.51 a gallon, government survey says

http://www.bakersfield.com/oil/Story/249791p-236866c.html

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), November 21, 2000


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