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Saudi Arabia And Kuwait Reaffirm Rights To Disputed Gas Field

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reiterated on Thursday that the natural resources in a gas field disputed with Iran “are exclusively owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as the two countries have the full sovereign rights to exploit the resources of the area,” the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a statement of the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

The dispute flared up earlier this year when Iran announced plans to start drilling at the field, which it calls Arash, while Kuwait and Saudi Arabia call it Durra.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have called on Iran to first demarcate its own maritime border as a way of validating its claim to 40% of the Arash/Durra field.

In the statement on Thursday, Saudi Arabia said that “the Kingdom and Kuwait reiterate their previous and persistent calls for the Islamic Republic of Iran to engage in negotiations concerning the eastern border of the maritime Divided Area, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait to be represented as one negotiating party, while Iran represents the other party.”

Earlier this week, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said that Iran would not give up an “iota” of its rights to make use of the offshore gas field.

“We announced to Kuwait that ... we are ready to make use of this field jointly, and that we regard this as the [undeniable] right of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the minister was quoted as saying by Iranian media on Wednesday.

Last week, Kuwait’s Oil Minister Saad Al Barrak said that Kuwait would begin drilling and gas production at the field without waiting for border demarcation with Iran.

Earlier this week, Iran’s Owji said that his country would “pursue its rights” in the dispute over the gas field.

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The flare-up in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran comes just as the two made the first steps to a thaw in relations, including the resumption of diplomatic links and talks about an end to the war in Yemen.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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