Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Iran threatens unilateral exploration at disputed Arash field

Iran has warned Kuwait that it will unilaterally proceed with full-scale drilling at the disputed Arash gas field in the Persian Gulf, if Kuwait fails to agree on joint development. The warning comes amid heightened tension in the Persian Gulf between Iran and its neighbours as well as the US.

Head of the Iranian Offshore Oil Company Mahmoud Zirakchianzadeh told state media that “if Iran's positive diplomacy is turned down, we will be carrying on our efforts at Arash field unilaterally”. There was no immediate response from Kuwait. The Iranian statement comes just two weeks after a senior Iranian MP accused Arab states of stealing oil and gas from shared fields in the Persian Gulf.

Emad Hosseini specifically referred to the Arash field in his comments, in which he accused Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates of working together to exploit joint fields to Iran's cost .There are at least fifteen fields shared between Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours, many lying close to maritime boundaries which are themselves often in dispute.

Negotiations on the Arash field have been ongoing since 2006, when Iran and Kuwait agreed in principle to jointly develop the field. In March 2010 they re-confirmed their commitment to joint development, but at the beginning of last month Tehran announced that it would begin drilling four wells at the field.

The maritime border between Iran and Kuwait remains unconfirmed, despite numerous rounds of talks between the two sides. Although essentially a technical issue, political tensions in the Gulf and the presence of joint gas fields has stymied progress on defining the border.

Sources: Reuters, IRNA

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