Iran inks deal to develop gas field in tense Gulf
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Iran inks deal to develop gas field in tense Gulf

Oil ministry says agreement shows US can’t stop Tehran with sanctions

Illustrative: This March 16, 2019, photo shows a natural gas refinery at the South Pars gas field on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, in Asaluyeh, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Illustrative: This March 16, 2019, photo shows a natural gas refinery at the South Pars gas field on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, in Asaluyeh, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN — Two Iranian companies signed a $440 million agreement Saturday to develop a gas field in the sensitive Gulf, with the oil ministry saying it showed arch-foe the United States could not stop the country with sanctions.

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the deal reached between two government-owned firms, Pars Oil and Gas Company and PetroPars, to develop the Balal field would be the first of many.

Tensions have soared in the Gulf since last year when the US began reimposing sanctions on Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from a 2015 deal that put curbs on its nuclear program.

“Signing this contract is… the beginning of a process,” Zanganeh said, quoted by the oil ministry’s Shana website.

Iran’s Minister of Petroleum, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, arrives for a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, and non OPEC members, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, July 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

“This is a sign that we are still functioning with sanctions at their peak… We are alive, we are active and working for Iran’s oil industry,” the Iranian minister said.

The sanctions, he added, “have not been able to stop the progress of Iranian oil industry and its development.”

“We don’t want to boast, but the United States cannot stop Iranian oil exports.”

The Balal gas field is located 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Lavan island in the Gulf.

The deal aims to reach a production rate of 500 million cubic feet of gas per day over a 34-month period.

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