Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Revolutionary Guards eye Iranian oil-and-gas development
Agence France-Presse

Iran's Revolutionary Guards are negotiating with the oil ministry to finalize oil-and-gas development contracts worth $10 billion US, several Tehran newspapers reported Tuesday.

The Guards' main industrial arm, Khatam-ol Anbiya Construction, has been bidding for Iranian energy projects as multinational firms have come under pressure to reduce their involvement in the face of UN and U.S. sanctions.

The largest project is the development of three blocks of the giant offshore South Pars gas field in the Gulf, estimated to cost between $5 billion and $6 billion, the Donyaye Eghtesad newspaper said, quoting a Monday report by the Mehr news agency.

"After the Turks [Turkish Petroleum International Co.] were left out of phases 22 to 24 of South Pars, talks with Khatam-ol Anbiya are in the final stages to take over these three gas blocks," the report said.

The giant holding company has so far been mainly involved in construction projects, building roads, bridges, ports and pipelines.

But the Guards, who have established significant control over Iran's economy under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, insisted in April that they were capable of replacing Western companies in major gas projects.

Khatam-ol Anbiya also is in talks with Iran's National Gas Co. to build a gas pipeline stretching 600 kilometres in northeastern Iran under a $1.3-billion contract, the report said.

In oil, the group is discussing construction of a $3-billion oil pipeline stretching 1,600 km across Iran linking the Caspian Sea to the Gulf.

In March, it signed an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Co. to build three oil pipelines for about $850 million.

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