Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Iranian officials said they will determine whether China's CNPC breaks accords related to development of part of the world's natural gas field in a project known as South Pars phase 11, and added that the country intends to stay in OPEC.
Zangeneh was "commenting on a possible violation of the Chinese company CNPC in South Pars phase 11," Irna added.
The comment comes after news reports hours earlier, based on unnamed sources, that CNPC was halting investments in the field because it was fearful of U.S. nuclear related sanctions.
In August, China's CNPC company replaced France-based Total in the project for development of Phase 11 of South Pars Gas Field, increasing its stake in the deal to as much as 80 percent, with Iran holding the rest, Irna reported at the time.
Total, according to media reports at the time, did not want to risk sanctions.
Total had entered into an accord to expand the South Pars/North Dome field in 2016. The entire field is estimated to hold 1,800 trillion cubic feet of gas and 50 billion barrels of condensates, the biggest in the world. The works agreed by Total were expected to result in 370,000 barrels of oil equivalent production per day, according to a report at the time by The Maritime Executive.
The works were to be done in two phases, with the first one representing $2 billion to build wells and platforms, while the second was to involve compression facilities, it said.
The field is offshore in the Persian Gulf, and is shared by Iran and Qatar.
Iran and Qatar have long been fellow members of OPEC. Qatar said earlier this month it was pulling out from OPEC at the end of the year because it no longer was focused on crude oil, but instead in natural gas.
Iran sources had said at the time that Qatar's OPEC withdrawal may have resulted also from discontent within OPEC with Saudi Arabia. Iran said that Saudi Arabia, the group's biggest producer, was more interested in working with non-OPEC members than with fellow OPEC partners. Instead of seeking consensus, it wanted to impose, Iranian officials added.
Zangeneh said Iran intends to remain in OPEC, which accepted in its last meeting to exclude Iran from having to participate in any output reduction because it faced special conditions. The OPEC and non-OPEC members agreed on a reduction of 1.2 million barrels per day in a bid to stop fast declining crude prices.
Iran has since May faced the threat of United States-nuclear related sanctions, which were announced at the time to keep Iran from obtaining revenue. However, on Nov. 5, as the sanctions went into effect, the United States granted waivers to eight buyers of Iranian oil, including the three biggest. Zangeneh said Iran intends to keep production levels.
According to data released Wednesday by OPEC, citing secondary sources, Iranian crude oil production showed the biggest decline among members in November, as it fell by 380,000 barrels per day from October to 2.95 million barrels per day.