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30 Companies Bid for New Oil Development Contracts in Iran

Source: Bloomberg 9/12/2004, Location: Asia

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Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Europe's second-largest oil company by market value, bid last month to develop new oil fields in Iran as its existing development contracts run out, a Shell spokesman said.

The Iranian National Oil Co., the second-largest state-owned oil company in the Middle East, said last week it was reviewing bids by foreign companies to explore and develop 16 potential oil fields. More than 30 companies bought the tender documents for the developments, Middle East Economic Digest reported on Sept.3, without saying how it got the information. Shell and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec ``bid together in the current exploration round in Iran where we see a number of business opportunities in the longer term,'' Shell spokesman Simon Buerk said in a telephone interview from London. ``Sinopec is a fast-growing international player and together we are pursuing a number of other opportunities.''

Shell is trying to boost oil reserves and production after revealing earlier this year it had wrongly categorized more than a fifth of its holdings as proved reserves. The U.S. Federal Securities & Exchange Commission allows companies to book oil supplies held under Iranian buy-back agreements even though Tehran forbids foreign companies from owning reserves, which are considered a national resource.

The development of the Soroush and Nowruz offshore oil fields, Shell's only existing oil holdings in the Middle East's second-largest oil producing country, are scheduled to reach total production capacity of 190,000 barrels a day by the end of the year, Buerk said. Shell also owns a 25 percent share in the Pars Oil Co., which produces and markets lubricants in Iran.

Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, four years ago signed a strategic alliance agreement with Shell for operations in China, which this year overtook Japan as the world's second biggest importer of crude oil.



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