Japan pulls out of Iran oil field

Move fueled by fear of reprisal from U.S.

Kyodo News

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The government and Inpex Corp. have decided to withdraw from a lucrative oil field development project in Azadegan, Iran, amid rising international tensions over Tehran’s nuclear activities, sources said Thursday.

The move is apparently being taken to prevent the Japanese company from being targeted by U.S. sanctions against Iran that would negatively impact its oil field development deals in other countries and transactions with U.S. financial institutions.

Speaking with reporters in the morning, trade minister Akihiro Ohata said he has been told Inpex is considering withdrawing from the Iranian oil field development project “as a managerial policy.”

Inpex owns a 10 percent interest in the Azadegan oil field development project but will not be heavily impacted by the withdrawal because it still has many interests in other regions, including Indonesia and Australia.

The move, however, will have an impact on Japan’s medium- and long-term energy strategy and its resource diplomacy in the Middle East. The trade minister is Inpex’s biggest shareholder.

Negotiations with Iran over the pullout could last a while because the Iranian side may seek compensation.

The Azadegan oil field is in southwestern Iran and has estimated crude oil deposits of about 26 billion barrels.

Norway energy deal

Kyodo News

Marubeni Corp. said Thursday it has acquired interests in oil and gas fields in the North Sea from Norwegian Energy Co. Marubeni will invest $150 million to purchase the rights and help develop the fields. It plans to close the deal with Noreco by the end of the year.

The interests concern the Oselvar development field and the Enoch production field. Marubeni expects its shares to produce 3,000 barrels of crude a day, plus natural gas.