TEHRAN — Iran has awarded a business unit of the elite Revolutionary Guards the rights to develop phases 13 and 14 of the giant South Pars gas field, the Mehr news agency announced on Friday.
The move comes after global firms Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol YPF were given two weeks on May 10 to say whether they wished to move forward on the two phases.
"The oil ministry has issued an ultimatum to Shell and Repsol and they are expected to make a decision about phases 13 and 14 of South Pars in two weeks time," Reza Kasaizadeh, chief of National Iranian Gas Export Co, told Mehr at the time.
"If they don't act promptly, we will hand over these two phases to capable Iranian firms."
Ali Valiki, managing director of the Pars Oil and Gas Co, was quoted by Mehr on Friday as saying Guards unit Khatam al-Anbiya would form a consortium with the Sadra and Khatam al-Ocia companies and the national drilling and national maritime installation companies to undertake the work.
He also confirmed reports earlier this week that phases 22, 23 and 24 were to be awarded to Khatam al-Anbiya.
Iran has the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas. The South Pars field in the Gulf has around 500 trillion cubic feet (14 trillion cubic metres) of gas, which represents about eight percent of world reserves.
It has been divided into 28 phases, of which one to five are already on stream.
The development of the giant offshore field has been delayed amid a lack of investment in a country faced with severe gas needs of its own and because of difficulties in procuring the technology to develop these fields.
Khatam al-Anbiya was created during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war to help rebuild the country, and has diversified over the years into companies dealing with mechanical engineering, energy, mining and defence.
The company is under US and UN sanctions related to Iran's refusal to abide by UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it halt its controversial uranium enrichment programme.
Global energy majors have come under increased pressure against doing business with Iran as Washington has stepped up efforts to impose new sanctions on the Islamic republic for pursuing its nuclear programme.
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