Italians Eye North, South Pars Projects

Italians Eye North, South Pars ProjectsItalians Eye North, South Pars Projects

Opportunities for investment in Iran's North and South Pars gas fields were explored in a meeting between an Italian delegation and officials from the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone in the city of Assalouyeh in the southern Bushehr Province.

"Grounds for cooperation in the PSEEZ were discussed with senior Italian executives," PSEEZ Managing Director Mehdi Yousefi was quoted as saying by Shana late on Monday.

The Italian mission expressed willingness to build a new port in North Pars, with investment proposals set to be explored in a joint commission in the near future.

"Access to international waters and easy transport of goods, besides an abundance of feedstock for petrochemical plants, are among advantages of the PSEEZ that give it an edge over other international energy zones," Yousefi said.

The PSEEZ chief noted that Iran sits on the world's largest natural gas reserves and the North and South Pars joint fields–holding an estimated  6.8% of all proven reserves in the world—are particularly important hotspots for investment in the post-sanctions Iran.

There are mixed estimates on which country holds the largest natural gas reserves. Iran (34 trillion cubic meters) and Russia (32.6 tcm) hold the largest proven gas reserves in the world, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

But the US Energy Information Association places Russia ahead of Iran with an estimated 49 tcm in reserves. Iran, Russia and Qatar together hold nearly half the world's proven gas reserves.

The Italian delegation is part of a 37-member mission of representatives from Italy's trade, industrial and financial sectors, which arrived in Tehran last week to lay the groundwork for further cooperation with the Persian Gulf country in the post-sanctions period.

"The nuclear agreement shows a promising prospect for foreign investment in the PSEEZ," the official said.

Yousefi further said the country's energy diplomacy, as a powerful tool in the Islamic Republic's foreign policy, would help raise investment in the PSEEZ projects.

South Pars is the world's largest gas field, shared between Iran and Qatar, covering an area of 3,700 square kilometers of Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. It adjoins Qatar’s North Field, which measures 6,000 square kilometers. North Pars is also one of the world's biggest independent gas fields located some 120 kilometers southeast of Bushehr Province.

Italy's Footprint

Italian companies were quick to rekindle negotiations on economic and trade cooperation with Tehran after the Persian Gulf nation reached an agreement with six world powers in July to end US and EU sanctions in exchange for temporarily limiting its nuclear program.

In a conference of Iranian and Italian officials and businessmen in Tehran last month, Rome signaled its strong intentions to become Tehran's top trading partner by 2018.

Oil and gas major Eni has pledged to introduce advanced exploration and drilling technologies in Iran's oil and natural gas fields and wants to pick up where it left off operations in Iran, including the development of Darkhovein Oilfield in the south.

In a meeting last week between Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Eni's chief upstream director, Antonio Vella, the Italian official reiterated his company's interest in expanding ties with Iran and said Eni is awaiting the nuclear deal to take effect to resume cooperation.