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Sun, Apr 29, 2007
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Brazil Oil Exploration Deal Expected
Gas Reserves Can
Last 3 Centuries
Unemployment Down
Software Exports at $9m
Formula Self-Sufficiency Near
Thailand for Closer Transport Ties
Mushroom Cultivation Growing
Company Advances
In Energy Capabilities

Brazil Oil Exploration Deal Expected
Brazil is poised to expand oil investment in Iran, reported ILNA. Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras is to sign a deal with Iranian Khazar Exploration & Production Company (KEPC) in the coming days to conduct exploration and development operations in the Caspian Sea, said the KEPC managing director on Saturday.
Mohammad Hossein Dana stated that the deal, which amounted to $450 million, will help the country to capitalize on Brazil’s deepwater technology.
Rising global demand for energy resources has made many countries embark on exploration in deeper waters--a technology which the Islamic state is still lacks.
He pointed to possibility of an increase in the amount of contract to $15 billion and $20 billion after implementation of development activities.
The official termed the contract as a major success for the company during the year to March 2008.
“Preliminary studies on the environment, infrastructure and facilities prolonged negotiations with the Brazilian sides.“
According to him, the Brazilian company has undertaken the operations considering the potential political condition and risks in the region.
Recalling that Russian companies have also shown interest in investing in the field, Dana expressed Iran’s readiness to cooperate with Russia.
Turning to Iran Alborz semi-floating platform, he hoped that the platform will become operational by late September.
“The contractor of the project has to be accountable (for the delay).“
The official observed that the project was delayed since it is the largest and first in its kinds executed by domestic experts.
Dana earlier said that the lack of sufficient measures to support the projects created problems which cannot be blamed on the employer, consultant or contractor.
Referring to the contractor of the project, he appreciated the performance of the Iran Offshore Industries Company (Sadra) in handling the project, adding that the main problem facing Sadra is shortage of funds. “To overcome the said problem, KEPC is seeking to provide Sadra with credits not stipulated in the contract. The issue has been placed before the State High Technical Council and the company is awaiting a decision,“ he added. Dana noted that the council approved the payment of 80 percent of expenses incurred by Sadra, adding that the company has already received $36 billion in advance.

Gas Reserves Can
Last 3 Centuries
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Neighboring states and European countries have become dependent on energy import from Iran.
Managing director of National Iranian Oil Company has predicted that Iran, which holds the world’s second largest known gas reserves, is able to exploit gas from its gas fields for the next three hundred years.
Speaking at a ceremony to launch Khesht oilfield development projects, Gholamhossein Nozari further forecast the country’s oil reserves will not dry up until the next seven decades provided the nation uses the energy efficiently, econews reported.
He elaborated that operations to build three plants (gas purification refinery, gas injection and desalter) have simultaneously begun in the oilfield in the southern Fars province which is believed to have the capacity to produce over one billion barrels of crude.
The official further noted seismological studies conducted in Sarmashad region, Fars province, indicate that it may be a gas field.
He added that preliminary surveys testify that there are gas fields in Lar and Fasa.
Asked why foreign oil and gas companies are keen on investing in Iran despite political pressures by some countries on the Islamic state, Nozari stated that the US has either occupied or has military bases in the hydrocarbon-rich Middle East states. “The only country which can be a reliable supplier of energy is Iran.
“The Islamic state is and continues to be a stable country in both political and economical terms.“
He recalled that Iran recently signed gas deals with Austria’s OMV energy company to export gas to Europe.
The country has also reached an agreement with India and Pakistan for the sale of liquefied natural gas, the official said, adding that Iran is also meeting Turkey’s gas demand.
“It seems that neighboring states and European countries have become dependent on energy import from Iran,“ he concluded.

Unemployment Down
Unemployment rate decreased by 0.3 percent during 2006-7 compared to the figure for the previous year, Iran’s Statistics Center announced.
The Persian daily ’Resalat’ quoted ISNA as saying that unemployment rate stood at 11.2 percent during the said period and 11.5 percent in the previous year (2005-6).
Statistics for the two years indicate that unemployment rate showed the highest decline of 2.8 percent in Hormuzgan province.
The center also announced that the employment share of the industry and service sectors reached 1.4 and 0.2 percent respectively.
This is while, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced in a contradictory report that Iran’s unemployment rate reached 12.1 percent during the last quarter of the previous Iranian year.
Majlis Research Center recommended earlier this month that education, especially at the higher levels, must more than ever focus on skills, knowledge-based curricula and training, and most importantly the needs of the market.
Experts have regularly warned that Iran’s workforce, particularly the fresh graduates, is simply not ready for the increasingly competitive labor market. Domestic unemployment rate is among the highest in the region despite the fact that successive governments have worked hard to create new job opportunities through a variety of schemes other incentives to employers and investors.

Software Exports at $9m
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Some 250 companies mostly small or medium-sized are involved in designing multimedia software.
Export of software reached nine million dollars during March 21-Nov. 21, 2006, vice chairman of the Association of Software Exporters said Saturday, hoping that the figure will rise to $30 million during the
year to March 2008.
“We are hopeful that software exports will rise to $30 million this year thanks to financial support of Iran Trade Development Organization and Software Exporters Union,“ Mohammad Reza Talaei told ISNA.
He recalled that software export reached close to $15 million in the year to March 2006.
Talaei blamed failure to comply with the law on supporting computer software designers for the low foreign and domestic investments in the sector.
Low investment as well as poor quality of domestically-designed products will create problems for software exports, he added.
Iranian software products are exported to Germany, Syria, Zimbabwe and Central Asian republics.
Talaei highlighted that 250 companies--mostly small or medium-sized--are members of Electronic Publishers Association and are involved in designing multimedia software.
“These firms which are helpful in conveying Iran’s history and culture to the world are largely losing their assets due to piracy of multimedia software.“
He appealed to the government to support the industry in which young Iranians are active.

Formula Self-Sufficiency Near
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The Islamic state will attain self-sufficiency in baby formula production by December, when the three new factories will become operational.
Iran will achieve self-sufficiency in infant formula production within the next seven months, director of Iran Milk Industry Company in charge of technical and development affairs announced on Friday.
“The Islamic state will attain self-sufficiency in baby formula production by December, when the three new factories will become operational,“ Hamid Reza Kamrava told IRNA in Shahr-e Kord, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province.
Located in the provinces of Khorasan Razavi, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari and Qazvin, the factories will each manufacture 20 million cans of infant formula, he added.
Stressing that the country’s demand stands at 20 million cans, the official predicted that with the commissioning of the factories, 40 million cans will be exported.
Kamrava noted that 400 billion rials have been invested in each of the production lines, which are to create over 1,000 jobs.
He added that the milk powder factory in this western province has shown a physical progress of 90 percent and needs another 100 billion rials for completion.

Thailand for Closer Transport Ties
Thailand Transportation Minister Tira Hao Charoen said Iran and Thailand can have strategic cooperation in the field of transportation.
Talking to Capitan Hossein Khanlari, head of the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CAOIRI), in Bangkok on Saturday, Charoen pointed to the geographical location of Iran which makes it suitable for transit services and said that a board of Thai experts will visit Iran in May to explore areas of cooperation to help develop air transportation, IRNA reported.
He acknowledged the current air transport cooperation and said such interactions should expand to land and marine transportation.
Khanlari, who doubles as deputy minister of roads and transportation, welcomed the idea of expert studies on the capacities of the two countries in the fields of air, land and marine transportation and told Charoen that Iran is willing to share its experiences of Thailand in airport services.
Pointing to the daily flights by Iranian airline ’Mahan’, to Bangkok he added that cooperation will boost the tourism industry and strengthen bilateral business relations.
He, then, extended an invitation from the minister of roads and transportation to Charoen to visit Iran, which he accepted. Iran’s ambassador was also present at the meeting.

Mushroom Cultivation Growing
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Iran is a mid-ranking producer of mushroom in the world.
some 22,000 tons f mushrooms will be poduced by Iran in the year to March 2008 of which 400 tons is likely to be exported, head of board of directors of the Edible Mushroom Producers Cooperative Company said.
Mohammad Reza Nourbakhsh told Moj that the country produced 18,000 tons of the product last year, adding, “Mushroom export reached 200 tons during March 2005-2006, while in the year before that only 60 tons were exported.“
The official noted that Iran is a mid-ranking producer of mushroom in the world and stated that now the average yield stands at 15 kilograms per square meter while in some units the figure is 25 kilograms.
“Increasing mushroom output depends on using cutting-edge technologies by production units,“ which are facing the huge financial problems, he observed.
Nourbakhsh concluded that three mushroom production units need 80 billion rials to buy required machineries and raw materials.
Earlier last November, Nourbakhsh told Moj that 120 production units have been built nationwide, 60 percent of which are active and the rest are closed or semi-closed due to inefficient installation systems and financial problems.
“While mushroom production units should procure their raw materials in the third quarter of the year, they fail to do so due to lack of liquidity,“ he said.

Company Advances
In Energy Capabilities
The withdrawal of the US oil major Halliburton from Iranian projects in the seismology and explorations sectors will have no impact on the national oil industry, observed a senior official.
Speaking to ILNA, Managing Director of Iran Oil Exploration Company Hassan Mohammadi-Moqaddam said that the company has the facilities and state-of-the-art technology in the oil industry to match those of Halliburton’s. He however acknowledged that the industry may face some problems with investment.
The official further said that the company has on its agenda to increase its capacity in the drilling sector by 300 percent in the year to March 2008.
He noted that not only has Iran become independent in managing seismological and exploring operations, but, for the first time, it can also take charge of upstream projects and export its services.
“As a contractor, we would like to be active in competitive markets. Therefore, we have asked employers to provide more opportunities to Iranian firms,“ he concluded.