Iran’s South Pars review for past solar year

Iran’s South Pars review for past solar year

Head of Trend's Iran News Service Dalga Khatinoglu/

Despite Iranian officials' promise to operate some new phases of the giant South Pars oil and gas field in the last solar year (ended on March 20), the output of this joint field with Qatar hasn't increased.

The head of the South Pars Oil and Gas Company (SP), Mousa Souri said earlier that during the past solar year, $7 billion from buy back contracts, domestic reserves and banks has been attracted to the South Pars. Meanwhile only 110, 000 billion rials (about $9 billion based on the USD's official rate in Iran) from 210,000 billion rails approved budget for South Pars has been allocated to this project.

According to experts and officials' estimations, each phase of South Pars needs averagely $5 billion.

The South Pars gas field is one of the largest independent gas reservoirs in the world lying on the territorial border between Iran and the State of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. It is one of the country's main energy resources.

South Pars on the Iranian side holds 14 trillion cubic meters of gas and has been divided into 29 phases, Phases 1 to 8 have been developed completely, Phases 9 and 10 has been operated, but not to full capacity and Phases 11 to 29 are under construction.

During the past three years from their inauguration, Phases 9 and 10, these phases have not been developed completely and their output in total is 42mcm/d, instead of the anticipated 50mcm/d.

Foriegn Companies

Until the first half of the past solar year, only the Chinese CNPCI, Angola's state oil company Sonangol and South Korean GS Engineering & Construction Company had remained in the South Pars projects.

CNPCI which signed the contract over SP's Phase 11 three years ago, has not started operating yet, the worse situation that led to suspending this company's $5 billion contract with Iran over North Pars oil and gas field by Iranian Petroleum Minister Rostam Qasemi in last October.

Angolian Sonangol which secured a 20 per cent stake in Phase 12 of Iran's South Pars natural gas project back in December 2009, withdrew on March 5 from the project and finally, South Korean SG company which signed a contract to sweeten the gas of Phases 6 to 8 has been suspended from the project since 2010.

Now, Iran is developing the SP project only relying on domestic reserves.

Promises and the facts

In the absence of foreign companies, Souri announced in January that Phases 15 to 18 will be early operational until March 20, a promise that was never kept.

Iranian officials say the current output of SP is 295 mcm/d, but regarding the fact that the output of each phase in SP is 25 mcm/d averagely and that Phases 9 and 10 are producing 42 mcm/d all together, the real output of SP is 242 mcm/d, the figure that petroleum minister's former deputy Akbar Torkan mentioned during his interview with Khabaronline.ir as well.

Now, Iranian officials say they will make five new phases (12, 15,16,17,18) operational during current solar year.

Attracting investment

According to government budget approved by Parliament, the issue of $4.2 billion bonds for SP had been scheduled for last solar year, but the Iranian government only succeeded in selling less than $1.250 during three issue rounds.

The first round, the Oil Ministry issued about $400 million bonds with 17 per cent interest, but only 20 per cent had been sold. Then in January, the Central Bank of Iran raises the bond interest to 20 per cent when the second round of issuing bonds started. About $850 million bonds were issued and sold out.

However during the second round, only a half the $400 million issued bonds were sold.

According to government's submitted budget bill to Parliament which has not be approved yet, the issue of 12.5 billion euro is scheduled for the current solar year, not only for SP, but all constructional, energy and other sectors. Acclocatin $18 billion (210,000 billion rials) is proposed for SP in budget bill.

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