Tehran, Moscow sign energy roadmap

Iran and Russia signed a "roadmap" in Moscow on Wednesday outlining long-term energy cooperation and said they would aim to set up a joint bank to help fund bilateral projects.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi inked the pact according to which the two countries would aim to increase cooperation in transit, swaps and marketing of natural gas as well as sales of petroleum products and petrochemicals for a period of 30 years.

The two sides agreed to study the possibility of establishing a joint bank to finance those projects and work out mechanisms to use national currencies, exchange technical knowledge in oil and gas exploration, and cooperate in the field of renewable energies as well.

Sanctions will not hinder us in our joint cooperation," Sergei Shmatko said, when asked about joint projects after the signing ceremony, Reuters reported.

Mirkazemi said the sanctions have had no impact on Iran because it had begun to rely even more on its own resources and said the measures were only damaging the activities of companies that were willing to work with Iran.

Russian oil and gas majors Gazprom, Gazprom Neft and LUKOIL, have signed billions of dollars worth of deals to help Iran develop its oil and gas fields but most projects are on hold because of sanctions.

                 Russia promises Iran fuel despite sanctions

Russian companies are ready to supply fuel to Iran, despite unilateral U.S. and EU sanctions targeting Tehran's oil and gas sectors, the Russian energy minister said.

"Russian companies are prepared to deliver oil products to Iran. The possibility of delivering oil products to Iran exists, if there is a commercial interest," Sergei Shmatko added.

Russia has already expressed its dissatisfaction with the sanction measures agreed last month by the United States and the European Union to punish Iran for its defiance in the nuclear standoff.

These go beyond the new UN sanctions that were agreed by Russia and other world powers which mainly target military-related industries.

Iran, which holds around 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, is the world's fourth-biggest oil exporter and the second-largest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia.

However a lack of refining capacity and inefficiency problems means Iran has to import vast volumes of petrol from a variety of sources in order to satisfy domestic demand.

According to Russian news agencies, Mirkazemi declared that sanctions "will in no way have an effect on the economic and industrial development of Iran. Independent countries are truly cooperating with Iran."

Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft said earlier on Wednesday it was interested in signing a geological exploration contract with Iran. CEO Nikolai Brunich said a consortium could bet set up to include Zarubezhneft, the state oil company of Iran and another Russian oil company.

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