Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum says it has started preliminary talks with Russians to develop Farzad B but negotiations also continue with the Indians who have long coveted the giant gas field. “For the development of the Farzad B field, we are pursuing three separate paths in parallel, but none of the options is definite yet,” director of the integrated planning at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Karim Zobeidi said on Monday. The third path is the implementation of a development study plan in cooperation with a foreign consultant and Iran’s Petropars company, the official explained.
Zobeidi said negotiations with the Indians have not achieved satisfactory results but they have not stopped either and that Iran was pursuing preliminary talks with a Russian company as the second path. “Along these two routes, the study of the development of Farzad A and B and the feasibility of the injection of gas from these fields into Aghajari (oil field) in cooperation with a foreign consultant and Petropars company is in progress,” he added.
Indian companies discovered the Farzad B gas field in Iran in 2008 and have bid several times for the development rights. The Indians were supposed to develop the field after its exploration, but they stopped their activities after the West intensified sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2012. With the lifting of the sanctions, India once again called for the development of Farzad B by ONGC Videsh which is the overseas investment arm of the country’s biggest energy exploration firm.
According to an agreement, the Indians were first to submit a technical plan and then a financial proposal for the development of the field, but Iran did not agree with the other side's financial proposals. In the absence of an agreement between Iran and India, the development plan for Farzad B will be put to international tender. In May, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh announced that Iran had signed a basic agreement with Russia’s energy giant Gazprom over the development of Farzad B.
Indians Shift Attention to Israel
On Monday, Reuters cited India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan as saying that state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp planned to bid for disputed Israeli offshore oil-and-gas exploration blocks.
A high-ranking Indian delegation visited Israel last month to discuss taking part in the tender for blocks in the Mediterranean Sea, the news agency reported. “We will definitely bid for Israel’s oil-and-gas blocks,” Reuters quoted Pradhan as saying.
New Delhi has deep military ties with Tel Aviv but they reportedly seek to expand their relationship to other sectors such as energy and technology following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July. According to Reuters, Israeli officials were pleased with the visit by the Indian economic team, while many oil majors have been hesitant to enter the Israeli market, fearing a backlash from oil-rich Arab states. Lebanon has a long-standing dispute with Israel which stands accused of stealing Arab resources.
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has said Israel was overtly stealing Lebanon’s underwater oil and gas reserves off the coast of south Lebanon. Hezbollah has warned that it would use force to protect Lebanon's resources. The gas discoveries have created a new source of friction between Lebanon and Israel, which have clashed repeatedly. Lacking in natural resources, Israel has said it had discovered two fields thought to contain about 24 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, enough to make it energy self-sufficient for decades. Lebanese leaders have said the reserves were a "golden opportunity" for Lebanon to service its huge debt and rebuild its economy.