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Iran awards gas contracts worth US$6.5 billion


Iranian officials have announced that the country has awarded new contracts worth US$6.5 billion in the gas sector.

Although the government's statement did not give any exact details the intent was to show that Iran's gas sector was still operating despite international sanctions, reported Reuters.

Javad Oji, head of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), said several big pipeline and refinery deals had been signed in the last few weeks and months. Iran is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and has the world's second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, but sanctions have slowed the development of the industry.

Iran has said that it needs around US$25 billion a year of investment in the oil and gas industry. "In December the contract on the construction of two main Iranian pipelines taking Iranian gas to Europe and Pakistan was signed," Oji was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

The total value of the contract was put at US$2.5 billion by Oji but he did not reveal who had won the contract. Another agreement was signed for the building of Bidboland gas refinery and Parsian refinery, which will both produce ethane, in partnership with Saderat Bank. The value of this project was set at US$4 billion.

Saderat bank, one of Iran's five major state-owned banks, will have an 80 per cent share in the two projects, and NIGC will hold the remaining share. An official at state Pars Oil and Gas Co. was quoted as saying that Iran planned to invest US$40 billion over the next 5 years in the giant South Pars gas field in the Gulf.