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Japan ready for talks with Iran on lucrative Azadegan oil venture

Tokyo , Sept 15 , IRNA

Iran-Azadegan-Japan
Japan on Friday voiced its strong willingness to hold talks with Tehran on implementation of a two- billion-dollar deal for development of an onshore oil field, Azadegan, south of Iran.


"For Japan the Azadegan oil field project is of importance and due to the same reason it is considering ways to ensure progress in the talks," said Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsutoshi Kaneda in a press conference here on Friday.

Kaneda said the issue will not have the least effect on Tokyo's stances, taken in coordination with the global community, regarding Iran's nuclear issue.

He said the talks will help transactions between the Iranian and Japanese private sectors.

Japan, importing nearly all of its oil from the Middle East, has invested heavily in Iran.

In February 2004, the two sides signed a two billion-dollar agreement to develop the Islamic republic's largest onshore oil field at Azadegan.

Iran's top energy official, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, said Saturday that the two countries would strike the deal within two weeks.

Japan has been under US pressure to abandon the deal.

Delays have also been caused by wrangling over financial terms as well as the slow pace of demining work in the area, which was heavily mined during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

The Japanese firm Inpex, which represents the country on the project, said it was going ahead with the development but there was no official deadline for a final decision.

"Preparations are under way," said Kazuya Honda, a spokesman for Inpex.

"Mine-clearing operations are still going on there," Honda said.

"But we don't recognize that a particular time limit has been set." According to the deal, Japan will have full development rights to the southern part of Azadegan, which has estimated reserves of 26 billion barrels of crude.

Azadegan is expected to pump 150,000 barrels a day by mid-2008 and reach 260,000 bpd by early 2012. Japan plans to import two thirds of the output.

SH/1420

---> Iran-Azadegan-Japan

News sent: 19:15 Friday September 15, 2006 Print