April 26, 2012 / 12:58 PM / 7 years ago

Iran firms set for South Pars if China fails-ISNA

DUBAI, April 26 (Reuters) - Iranian energy companies could develop phase 11 of the giant South Pars gas field, a senior Iranian official said on Thursday, if a Chinese contractor does not meet Iran’s ultimatum to move ahead with the project in the next 30 days.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) was given a month’s deadline by Iranian Oil minister Rostam Ghasemi last week to make a serious start on the project after 32 months of delay.

“Despite all the opportunities given to the Chinese company...we gave this company a 30-day ultimatum to start work in a serious manner and purchase equipment,” Musa Souri, general manager of the Pars oil and gas company was quoted as saying by the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA).

“Iran’s national interests request that the development of this phase is done quickly,” he added.

CNPC was not immediately available for comment.

The Islamic state previously has warned CNPC over the lack of progress on the project, according to local media reports.

In September last year, Reuters reported China’s reluctance to progress with oil and gas investments in Iran, depriving the Islamic Republic of one of the only international powers capable of providing the billions of dollars of investment Tehran needs to maintain capacity of its oil sector.

Souri said despite the emphasis and pressure on the Chinese contractor, the project has not gone according to plan and confirmed Iran would not wait for the Chinese in the event of further delay.

Iran has the second biggest gas reserves in the world after Russia, but U.S.-led international sanctions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme have hindered the development of its gas sector and crippled its progress to become a major exporter.

Many foreign companies have been forced to pull out of the Iranian energy sector due to the fear of sanctions.

The offshore South Pars field, the world’s largest reservoir of gas, contains about half of the Iran’s gas reserves. South Pars is shared by Iran and Qatar.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Marcus George, Editing by

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