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Iran signs Caspian exploration deal with local firm

TEHRAN, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Iran on Tuesday signed contracts valued tentatively at a total $50 million with the local Petro Iran Development Company (PEDCO) for oil and gas exploration in the Caspian Sea, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

It quoted Deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi as saying the first of two contracts covered exploration in the Alborz-1, Alborz-2, Alborz-3, and Alborz-4 fields, while the second covered exploration in the Babol and Boustan fields.

Majedi said the contracts, signed by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and PEDCO, would later also cover development and exploitation.

"There is inter-connection in the agreement between the exploration, development and exploitation phases," said Majedi, who is the top official in charge of Iran 's Caspian oil and gas resources.

"The cost of these contracts is forecast at $50 million at the exploration stage," Majedi said. "The costs will be different in the development and exploitation phases and will be determined at that time."

Iran 's efforts at developing its energy resources in the Caspian Sea have included a pipeline project to transport oil through the Islamic republic.

The United States, which has mounted an economic and political campaign to isolate Iran , is fiercely opposed to any Caspian route through the country.

Iran has also had disputes with Azerbaijan and other Caspian Sea states over the exploitation of the sea's rich resources.

Tehran says the five littoral states should agree jointly on exploitation projects. Most of the other states have said every country should be free to develop its own area of the Caspian .


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