Government-linked oil developer Inpex Corp. has not been informed of a possible termination in September of a contract to develop a major oil field in Iran between the firm and its Iranian partners, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai said Friday.

Nikai declined to state the government’s position on the matter, but said he believed Inpex has been waiting for the removal of land mines above the oil field before starting the project.

Inpex is obliged to keep the exact details of the contract secret.

Mehdi Bazaargan, managing director of Petroleum Engineering & Development Co., a subsidiary of National Iranian Oil Co., in an interview Thursday with Kyodo News, said the contract signed in February 2004 calls for development of the Azadegan oil field in southwestern Iran to start within 2 1/2 years and would be “terminated automatically” if the deadline is missed.

Bazaargan said the contract involving Inpex, National Iranian Oil and its subsidiary took effect in March 2004. He ruled out the possibility of extending the implementation period.

The head of the Iranian subsidiary denied that land mines were a major obstacle to starting the work and claimed that Inpex has been pressuring the Iranian firm to boost its capital spending on the project.

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