UPI Energy Watch

By ANDREA MIHAILESCU  |  Oct. 17, 2007 at 4:34 PM
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Belarus eyes Iranian oil

Belarus plans to begin experimental oil production at the Jofeireh field in Iran in 2008 and commercial production in 2011, in accordance with a contract signed with Iran, a Belneftekhim official was cited as saying in local press.

Under an agreement signed in September with the National Iranian Oil Co., Belarus will install equipment and start producing oil in two years, Georgy Ushkevich, a department head at the Belneftekhim development and investment division, said.

"Well drilling and equipment installation work needs to be finished before the end of 2008," he said.

Two wells have been drilled and two oil derricks delivered, the spokesman said.

"The National Iranian Oil Company and Belorusneft are to continue drilling explored oil layers and explore new ones," he said.

Ushkevich said the contract signed does not cover production ownership issues.

Belarus agreed to develop the Jofeireh field in Iran. The cost of the two phases of the buy-back contract is about $450 million and when the project reaches its final stage oil production could total about 40,000 barrels per day.

The Jofeireh field is on the Iranian border with Iraq. Iran estimates that the field can produce about 40,000 barrels daily.

Reserves are estimated at 2.1 billion barrels.

"These reserves will be enough for 170 million barrels to be produced in 25 years, of which 95 percent will be heavy oil and 5 percent light oil," Ushkevich said.

SOCAR mulls investing in Romania

The State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan, or SOCAR, is conducting a study on whether it should seek investment opportunities in Romania, Rovnag Abdullayev, president of SOCAR, told reporters Monday.

"We intend to have a specific investment program for Romania. The program's focus would not only be opening filling stations. We have a particular interest in Romania's oil refinement complex and we are studying the opportunities there. If we have an oil-refining complex, then there would also be a filling station chain. We already plan to realize certain projects in 2008," Abdullayev said.

SOCAR has not released details on the investment.

In addition to opening offices in Romania and Georgia, the company has also opened a representative office in Britain.

"We are also planning to open SOCAR offices in Switzerland and Kazakhstan," Abdullayev said.

SOCAR is considering opening an office in Kazakhstan as it looks toward the possible transit of Kazakh hydrocarbon production via the Caspian, through Azerbaijan and onto the world market, Vagif Aliyev, head of SOCAR's foreign investment department, said.

"For the future, we are interested in the transit of Kazakh oil and gas through Azerbaijan, which requires a representative office to be directly located in Kazakhstan and involved in these projects," Aliyev said.

Gazprom to bid for Turkish project

Russian gas giant Gazprom said it may place a $3 billion bid for the Turkish capital's gas grid.

Bosphorus Gaz Corp., owned by Gazprom and Turkey's Tur Enerji, is interested in buying the Ankara grid and other Turkish networks to be sold in the future, Tugrul Erkin, the Turkish unit's general coordinator, said in an interview Thursday with Turkish Daily News.

Gazprom wants to expand into markets outside Russia to boost revenue from retail sales. Turkey is selling its state-owned energy assets to reduce the role of the government in the economy and boost revenue under a $10 billion IMF anti-inflation pact.

"We are considering entering the auction with our partner Gazprom,” Erkin said. The company, Baskent Dogal Gaz, owns a 30-year license to distribute gas in the capital. Bosphorus may also bid for Istanbul's gas distribution network, which the government promised to sell, Erkin said.

Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said last month the city's natural gas grid could be worth as much as $3 billion, allowing the capital to pay off its $850 million debt to state pipeline monopoly Botas and fund transport and water projects.


Closing oil prices, Oct. 17, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $84.64

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $87.92


(e-mail: energy@upi.com)

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