Iran Sees First Crude From Azadegan Oil Field in Six Months

Source: bloomberg 5/22/2007, Location: Asia

Iran plans to produce 20,000 barrels of crude a day from Azadegan, its biggest oil discovery in three decades, by the end of the year as the Islamic Republic speeds up development to compensate for the depletion of older fields.

Six wells will be put into operation in six months, Seifollah Jashnsaz, managing director of the state-owned National Iranian South Oil Company, told Shana, Iran's oil ministry press agency. He referred to 20,000 barrels of oil a day as the company's ''early production'' target.

Delays in developing the field are likely to result in new revisions for Iran's crude output target. Iran last September lowered its oil production target for 2010 to 4.6 million barrels a day from 5 million. It needs to add as much as 500,000 barrels of new daily output each year to keep production even, according to Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh.

The Azadegan field, which was discovered in October 1999, has a production target of 260,000 barrels a day by 2012. It's located in southeastern Iran, close to the border with Iraq.

Iran has sought to speed up the field development after Japan's Inpex Holding Inc., which won development rights in 2004, cut its stake to 10 percent from 75 percent in early October. Inpex blamed rising costs and said it couldn't start work until Iran removes landmines laid during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Japan also came under pressure from the U.S. to abandon Azadegan amid efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program.

Iran, the second-biggest member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, currently produces 3.88 million barrels of crude a day, less than two-thirds of the 6 million barrels a day it had pumped before the 1979 Revolution.


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