Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Noureddin Shahnazizadeh told a delegation in Moscow his country had concluded the initial studies for the $2 billion pipeline and would move forward with the contract phase soon, RIA Novosti reports.
"We have already completed the groundwork for the project and will soon announce an international tender," he said. "I invite international companies, including Russian companies, to participate in the project."
Iran has the ability to store some 1.5 million barrels of oil at ports on the Caspian Sea for possible transport to Azerbaijan through the 970-mile Neka-Jask pipeline.
Neka-Jask would travel from the Caspian port of Neka to Jask in the Gulf of Oman, linking several regional suppliers, including Russia and Turkmenistan.
The project is part of a five-year plan for Iran that gets under way in 2010.
Bahan Sorooshi, an official at the National Iranian Oil Co., said part of the five-year development plan may include energy giant Gazprom and Tatneft, the sixth-largest oil and gas company in Russia, as potential investors as Tehran looks to Moscow as an energy partner.
Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and holds the third-largest reserves of crude oil in the world.
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