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Iran starts drilling work at gas field abandoned by energy giants

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Photo provided by Iran’s Oil Ministry’s news service Shana shows staff onboard a gas rig in the Persian Gulf waters waiting for the official start of drilling operations at Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field on an order by Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh on December 14, 2020.

Iranian domestic energy companies have started drilling for natural gas at a major gas field in the Persian Gulf where operations had stalled indefinitely two years ago after foreign energy giants left the filed under US pressure.

Iran’s Oil Ministry’s news service Shana said in a Monday report that drilling work on a first well at Phase 11 of the South Pars started earlier in the day during a ceremony held via video conference at the ministry headquarters in Tehran.

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh ordered the start of the operation at the drilling rig MD-1, located deep into the Persian Gulf waters at a maritime boundary with Qatar specified as SPD11B, said the report.

Phase 11 is the largest of 28 phases of South Pars, the Iranian section of the world’s largest gas filed which is shared with Qatar.

Development work in the field came to an indefinite halt in 2018 when France’s energy giant Total announced it would withdraw from the project over difficulties of working under an American regime of sanctions on Iran.

China’s CNPC, the second largest stakeholder in the development project, also withdrew later under similar excuses.

That forced Iran to award the entire project to the minority shareholder Petropars, a major Iranian energy company with years of experience in oil and gas development projects.

The MD-1 rig, manufactured by Iran’s energy construction company MAPNA, had been installed on the location on Phase 11 of South Pars on November 6, said the report by Shana.  

It added that a total of 12 wells are to be dug at Phase 11 with a batch of five planned for a first round of drilling. Total production from the wells would amount to 1 billion cubic foot of gas (28 million cubic meters), said Shana.

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