TEHRAN, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Tehran said it suspended a Chinese gas contract and replaced Russia's Gazprom Neft with a domestic company as energy production in the country slumps.
The Iranian Oil Ministry announced it signed a contract with state-controlled oil companies to develop the Azar oil field within the next five years. Tehran said production there could reach more than 50,000 barrels per day. The field, along Iran's western border, is shared with Iraq.
The move was to replace Russia's Gazprom Neft, which reached a deal with Iran in 2009. Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi was quoted by the Financial Times as saying "foreign companies did not show much interest" in the Azar field.
Meanwhile, directors of the Pars Oil and Gas Co. said they suspended a contract for China National Petroleum Corp. for work in the giant Persian Gulf gas field. Tehran had said Chinese work was conditional on development progress.
Western powers have sanctioned Iran's energy sector as punishment for Tehran's controversial nuclear program. The Financial Times notes that Iranian oil production is on the decline, though Iranian officials challenge those claims.