NIOC in Talks to Settle Rhum Gas Field Dues

NIOC in Talks to Settle Rhum Gas Field Dues
NIOC in Talks to Settle Rhum Gas Field Dues

BP has released Iran's share of revenues from past gas sales at the Rhum Gas Field in the North Sea to a National Iranian Oil Company bank account in the UK, managing director of NIOC said, stressing negotiations are underway to ease the transfer of the payment to NIOC accounts in Iran.

“The amount has been paid into a NIOC account, yet talks are being held to remove banking hurdles to facilitate transfer of Iran's dues from the development of the joint field with UK in the North Sea,” Ali Kardor was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

Rhum Gas Field in the North Sea, which cost $565 million to develop, is shared equally between BP and NIOC. But gas production from the field was stopped in 2010 due to the international sanctions against Iran.

As part of efforts to put British companies back on Iran’s business map, Lord Lamont, who chairs the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, had earlier discussed the banking issues and ways to facilitate the repayment of Iran’s earnings from the gas field.

According to Kardor, most of the oil dues have been cleared and no oil debt to Iran is blocked in foreign countries due to the banking restrictions.

The official said the only remaining issue is the method and channel of payment.

Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia has said that the country now faces no hurdles in receiving oil revenues.

According to Tayyebnia, Iran is working with small- and medium-sized foreign banks, but faces problems in dealing with big banks.

  Gradual Repayment of Debts

Under the sanctions regime, many buyers of Iranian oil could not pay their bills due largely to the banking embargoes, resulting in piled up oil debts that are being gradually cleared after the lifting of the hurdles in January.

In March, the Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell paid €1.77 billion ($1.9 billion) it owed the National Iranian Oil Company.

"Italian oil refiner Saras has also paid €100 million ($112 million) of its total debt (around €350 million) it owes Iran for crude oil," Ali Kardor told Reuters.

It paid a first installment of €50 million in the second quarter and another €50 million in July.

Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum paid its first installment in June, which amounted to €100 million.

India is one of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude and built up a payments backlog when Iran was under sanctions, with its refiners owing about $6.5 billion to Iran.

Essar Oil, the top Indian buyer of Iranian oil, in June cleared $500 million of the debt.

Essar, which operates an oil refinery processing 400,000 barrels per day at Vadinar in Gujarat, owes about $3 billion to Iran.