Japan's largest oil and gas exploration and production company is reportedly trying to win a contract over the development of a major oil project in Iran that it abandoned in 2010.
Kyodo news agency quoted an Iranian official as saying that Inpex had started intense talks with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to develop the Azadegan oil field in Iran’s southwestern oil-rich province of Khouzestan.
Noreddin Shahnazizadeh, the managing director of Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) told Kyodo that Japan’s top developer was a strong candidate for the contract.
“Inpex is one of the good names in the oil industry and as it has past experience and data regarding Azadegan it is one step ahead compared to its rivals and has a chance to win the Azadegan tender,” said Shahnazizadeh.
Azadegan was once described as Iran’s biggest oil discovery in multiple decades and is believed to have an in-place reservoir of 42 billion barrels.
Inpex had a stake of 10 percent in a development project in Azadegan but withdrew in 2010 following the Japanese cabinet's decision which is believed to have been prompted by US pressures.
“There is no remaining conflict between Iran and Japan from the past over Azadegan,” Shahnazizadeh told Kyodo news agency. “We understood Inpex’s situation when they were forced to leave the project, and now they are welcomed again.”
Iran awarded the project to China’s CNPC in 2009. However, the country’s oil officials later indicated major discontent with the performance of the Chinese company and accordingly announced in April 2014 that it had been kicked out of Azadegan.
According to Shahnazizadeh, Total has already handed over a final proposal for the project, while Inpex and CNPC will submit their presentations soon.
Other reports said Royal Dutch Shell, Malaysia's Petronas and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had also signed basic agreements with Iran to study the development of Azadegan and submit their proposals to the NIOC.
A deal over Azadegan development is expected to be completed around the first quarter of 2017, and the contractor will be chosen by summer.
Technical, financial and recovery factors will determine the winning bid, Shahnazizadeh said.