TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran and China on Wednesday signed a 1.76 billion dollar contract for the initial development of the North Azadegan oil field in western Iran, an Iranian oil ministry official said.
The agreement between China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) foresees production from the field reaching 75,000 barrels a day in four years' time, the official said.
If that timetable is maintained, Iran may award CNPC the contract for the second phase, when production is scheduled to double.
The north Azadegan field is in Khuzestan province on the border with Iraq and has reserves of about six billion barrels of oil.
Western oil companies have refused to invest in Iran because of the controversy over its nuclear energy programme and Tehran has increasingly turned to Asian companies.
Outline agreements have been signed with several Asian companies but the deal between CNPC and NIOC is the first major oil sector contract finalised in recent years.
CNPC this month began work on developing the Al-Ahdab oil field in Iraq following the signing of a three billon dollar contract.