Germans to Study 4 Oilfields

Germans to Study 4 OilfieldsGermans to Study 4 Oilfields

Wintershall Holding, Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer, is in talks with the National Iranian Oil Company to conduct technical surveys on four oilfields in western Iran, an NIOC official said.

Ali Kardor, investment and finance director of NIOC, added that the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on oilfield surveying in Iran, the Oil Ministry's official news portal Shana reported late Tuesday.

"According to the agreement, the two sides will exchange information within a month and the German company will then commence studies on the four crude oil reservoirs," the official said, without elaborating.

"Wintershall is also interested in holding oil- and gas-related training courses in Iran and expanding collaboration in research and development projects."

A statement by the company confirmed the arrangement.

"In order to prepare for further activities in the region, Wintershall recently signed an MoU with NIOC about potential future cooperation," it said, adding that the details of the agreement were confidential.

Established in 1894, the German giant produces oil and gas in Europe, North Africa, South America, Russia and the Middle East, and has a workforce of more than 2,000 employees worldwide.

Kardor said most German companies meet the highest standards in the industry and Wintershall's experience can give impetus to Iran's oil production plans.

"Wintershall and NIOC have not previously worked together, but it has carried out crude extraction projects in a lot of places such as Libya, Iraq and Africa," he said.

The Islamic Republic has pledged to win back the market share it lost to rival oil producers such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and raise crude production to its pre-sanctions level of nearly 4 million barrels a day.

Besides seeking business opportunities in Iran, Wintershall is also rapidly expanding operations in Russia, Argentina and Norway.

Wintershall is a subsidiary of BASF, the world's largest chemical producer, which has been actively studying Iran's energy market after the Middle East nation and six world powers reached an accord to limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief.

According to Marzieh Shahdaei, managing director of the state-run National Petrochemical Company, negotiations are underway with a prominent German side to establish a mega project in Iran's petrochemical industry.

Speculation is rife that BASF is involved in negotiations, but it could not be independently confirmed.

NPC, meanwhile, has been tightlipped on the details of talks, including about a visit by Shahdaei to Germany last week that did not get much publicity but is said to be regarding the joint petrochemical project with Germans.

--- European Rivalry

The MoU with Wintershall comes as Italy, another major European economy, sealed a number of economic and energy agreements during Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's visit to Tehran on Tuesday.

Energy major Enel on Tuesday signed an MoU for possible future cooperation in natural gas, liquefied natural gas and related infrastructure. Italian refiners Saras and Eni have also reportedly reached agreements to import crude oil from Iran.

In addition, the two sides signed a preliminary agreement to build a number of renewable power plants in Iran with a total power generation capacity of 500 megawatts.

Besides its traditional Asian business partners such as China and India, Iran has turned to European firms that are keen on implementing oil exploration and production projects.

The country needs foreign investment and technology to offset years of setback in its pivotal oil and gas sector resulting from years of limited ties with the outside world due to the US and EU sanctions.