An Iranian oil official said on Saturday that the country has started talks with international contractors from Asia and Europe over the development of phase two of its South Azadegan oil field and that among the companies Iran is negotiating over the projects is France's Total, Press TV reported.
Mahmoud Mar'ashi, the project manager of South Azadegan at Iran's Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC), has been quoted by the media as saying that the production target for the second phase of the project will be at least 210,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Mar'ashi added that the project is currently producing about 110,000 bpd which is expected to increase to 320,000 bpd once fully developed.
He further added that the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has conducted talks with the French energy company Total over the same project. Two other French companies - Vinci and Entrepose - are also engaged in talks with the NIOC over South Azadegan, added the official.
The Asian players with which the NIOC has conducted talks over South Azadegan are Japan's Marubeni as well as South Korea's Hyundai. There have also been some limited talks with Japan's Inpex, Mar'ashi emphasized.
The official further said that the total investments required for South Azadegan will be below $5 billion, stressing that the exact amount of the required capital remains to be determined.
Iran discovered Azadegan oil field in 1999 in what was the country's biggest oil find in decades. The country accordingly teamed up with Inpex to push the project toward development. However, the Japanese company quit the project in what appeared to be a result of US sanctions against Iran.
The NIOC later divided the project into South Azadegan and North Azadegan and both were awarded to China's CNPC when Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) was in office.
The media reported in 2014 that Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh had sidelined CNPC from South Azadegan due to its protracted delays in developing the field.
South Azadegan is believed to hold an in-place oil reserve of about 33.2 billion barrels and its recoverable resources estimated at about 5.2 billion barrels.