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An Indian consortium led by ONGC Videsh has offered Tehran US$11 billion in investments into the Farzad-B natural gas field on the condition that the Iranian authorities can guarantee it a reasonable level of returns. Reasonable, according to ONGC, is 18 percent, according to the managing director of the company’s overseas investment arm, who spoke to Bloomberg.
Negotiations between Indian companies and Iran on the development have been going on for a while now, with pressure building between the parties over the last couple of months as Iran delayed its final decision about the field several times. India responded to the delays with threats of reduced Iranian oil imports.
Iran added fuel to the fire at the end of May when it signed an initial agreement for Farzad-B with Russia’s Gazprom. The news, announced by Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, came on the back of earlier remarks that Russian energy companies may take the place of Indian sector players in Iran’s oil and gas fields.
Still, the latest offer from ONGC is a substantial increase on the initial US$3-billion bid of the company and may lead to reconsideration in Tehran unless it deems the return condition too challenging. Of the total, ONGC said, US$6 billion will go towards the development of the field, and the remainder will be invested in the construction of an LNG export terminal. The LNG will be marketed to Indian energy companies, which, managing director Narendra Kumar Verma said, were willing to buy the whole output of the future facility.
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“We have given our best offer to them. Now, it is up to them to agree or not agree. We have told the Iranian authorities very clearly that some basic returns are necessary,” Verma said.
The value of the Gazprom deal for the field has not been disclosed, so we might see a bidding war now, if Tehran indeed reconsiders ONGC’s offer. Farzad-B holds reserves estimated at more than 350 billion cu m of natural gas.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.