India says gas field decision on Iran

Financial Tribune- India’s oil minister says a final deal with Iran to develop the Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf is currently “in Iran’s course”.

The lifting of international sanctions against Tehran in January 2016 and the easing of financial and trade curbs gave a fresh lifeline to negotiations on developing the Farzad-B project. But the two sides have made little inroads in negotiations as Iran says India’s proposal to develop the offshore field is not attractive enough.

“We have given it our proposal; now it’s time to react. They have to answer,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told Reuters at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas.

A consortium headed by ONGC Videsh, the overseas investment arm of ONGC, discovered the field in the Farsi offshore block in 2008. However, the consortium could not obtain the permission to develop the field due to tighter international sanctions imposed on Iran due to nuclear program dispute.

As a gesture of goodwill, Iran has so far excluded Farzad-B from a list of several dozen oil and gas projects that it plans to put out to tender under a new model of contracts. But it could no longer be the case should the negotiations fail.

An oil official said in late November that Iran was keeping all its options open for tendering the Farzad-B Gas Field because negotiations with India over the coveted gas project had not produced anything of substance.

“We are in the last round of talks with India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation over the Farzad-B project and should the two sides fail to come to an agreement, the project will be put out to an international tender,” Mohammad Meshkinfam, managing director of Pars Oil and Gas Company, said, adding that ONGC’s proposed master plan to develop the field “is not financially viable”.

The National Iranian Oil Company is expected to announce its decision on India’s proposal soon.