Iran to ‘pursue rights’ over disputed gas field: State media

Iran said it will pursue its interests over the Dorra-Arash field if Saudi Arabia and Kuwait shun cooperation.

A gas flame burns from a pipe close to an offshore oil platform in the Persian Gulf's Salman Oil Field, operated by the National Iranian Offshore Oil Co., near Lavan island, Iran
A gas flame burns from a pipe close to an offshore oil platform in the Salman Oil Field, operated by the National Iranian Offshore Oil Co, near Lavan Island, Iran, on January 5, 2017 [File: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg]

Iran’s oil minister has said Tehran would “pursue its rights” to a disputed natural gas field also claimed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait if negotiations fail, the ministry’s news agency has reported.

The offshore zone of the resource-rich Gulf, known as Arash in Iran and Dorra in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, has long been a focal point of contention between the three countries.

“Iran will pursue its rights and interests regarding exploitation and exploration” of the field “if there is no desire for understanding and cooperation”, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji was quoted as saying by the official Shana news agency on Sunday.

He said Tehran has sought “the path of negotiation and understanding with our neighbours”, according to Shana.

“Iran will not tolerate any violation of its rights,” Owji added.

Earlier this month, Kuwait had invited Iran for another round of maritime border talks after Tehran said it was ready to start drilling in the field.

On Thursday, Sky News Arabia quoted Kuwait’s Oil Minister Saad al-Barrak as saying his country would begin “drilling and production” at the gas field without waiting for a border demarcation deal with Iran.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, who share some maritime gas and oil resources, last year signed an agreement to jointly develop the field despite objections from Iran, which branded the deal as “illegal”.

The dispute over the field stretches back to the 1960s, when Iran and Kuwait each awarded an offshore concession, one to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the forerunner to BP, and one to Royal Dutch Shell.

The two concessions overlapped in the northern part of the field, whose recoverable reserves are estimated at some 220 billion cubic metres (nearly eight trillion cubic feet).

Iran and Kuwait have held unsuccessful talks for many years over their disputed maritime border area, which is rich in natural gas.

Iranian drilling of the field in 2001 spurred Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to agree on joint offshore projects.

Saudi Arabia and Iran ended in March a seven-year rift with a Chinese-brokered rapprochement deal, raising hopes for reduced tensions between the Middle East powers.

Source: AFP