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90 Firms Eye 17 New Oil Blocks :Official

Source: tehrantimes 2/9/2007, Location: Asia

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A senior Iranian oil official said on Friday that 90 foreign firms had shown an interest in 17 new onshore and offshore blocks that were offered to investors earlier this month, state radio reported.

Iran, which analysts say needs foreign technology to improve production in its fields, had said it hoped to attract international investment of at least 460 million euros ($599 million) in the blocks.

"The 17 new blocks that have been presented in the recent Vienna meeting have been welcomed by 90 foreign companies for investment," the head of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Gholamhossein Nozari, was quoted as saying by state radio.

The United States has frowned on deals that Asian and European oil companies have signed with Iran as it seeks to punish Tehran for working on nuclear enrichment, which Washington says is aimed at producing an atomic bomb.

The U.S. has sanctions in place to punish foreign companies that invest more than $20 million a year in Iran's energy sector, but has never enforced them. Nozari has previously said NIOC was aiming to boost its crude output capacity to 5.3 million barrels per day by 2015 from around 4.2 million bpd now

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