Iran, China in Energy Deal, Annual Trade to Hit $20 Billion

( AP ) -- Iran's interior minister said Friday his country has finalized oil and gas projects with China, adding that two-way trade was on target to hit $20 billion (14.4 billion euros) this year among robust commercial ties.

Speaking to reporters after meetings in Beijing, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi gave few details but indicated progress had been made. "We have many big projects on the table," Pour Mohammadi said.

"And in my talks and sessions we finalized our parts and projects in oil fields, gas fields and investing and transporting of fuel between the two countries," the minister said.

Economic ties covered areas ranging from power station construction and mining to the building of subways and automobile plants.

"This year, trade will hit $20 billion (14.4 billion euros) and will develop in other fields," Pour Mohammadi said.

Despite the minister's comments, energy deals between Iran and China have repeatedly been held up over price and revenue sharing.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., best known as Sinopec, said in April it does not plan to buy liquefied natural gas from Iran because the price is too high, but that it was discussing other cooperation.

China is scrambling to meet its growing energy needs, and Sinopec had earlier held talks about purchasing LNG from Iran, which has the world's second largest natural gas reserves.

Tehran has also been at odds with China's Sinopec over the development of the Yadavaran oil field because the company wanted a 15 percent return, and Iran something lower, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, Gholam Hussein Nozari, told the official IRNA news agency in January.

While the United States is on a concerted campaign to discourage foreign energy companies from doing business in Iran, analysts say Iran's investment woes are its own fault because it fails to offer enticing deals.

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