A contract worth $1billion was signed with Khatam-ul-Anbia Construction Headquarters to develop two gas development projects, a senior official said Saturday.
Mehdi Fakour, a senior Oil Ministry official, said Khatam-ul-Anbia will develop two gas fields in the south of the country without tender.
“A contract to develop Halgan and Sefid Baghoon gas fields has been signed with Khatam-ul-Anbia ... without tender,’’ Mehr News Agency quoted Fakour as saying.
Based on the Oil Ministry’s latest directives, contractors with favorable financial capabilities can take part in the projects without tender, he explained.
Fakour said that the development of the two gas fields in Fars Province will result in the production of 19 million cubic meters of natural gas a day.
Recently discovered, Halgan field has in-place gas reserves of 12 trillion cubic feet, 70 percent of which, equivalent to 8.938 trillion cubic feet, are expected to be exploitable.
The in-place gas condensates reserve of Sefid Baghoon is 249 million barrels, of which 98 million barrels are exploitable.
Khatam-ul-Anbia is currently the largest contractor for government projects in Iran, handling 1,500 of the country’s most important state projects over the past four years.
The conglomerate is also involved in developing Iran’s giant South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf. Khatam-ul-Anbia is one of the country’s largest corporations with stakes in mining, telecommunications and the oil and gas sectors.
Last year, Ali Vakili, managing director of Pars Oil and Gas Company announced that Khatam-ul-Anbia would develop phases 13 and 14 of the giant South Pars Gas Field.
This came 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.
Vakili said Khatam-ul-Anbia would form a consortium with the Sadra and the national drilling and national maritime installation companies to undertake the work.
Iran has the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas. The South Pars field in the Persian Gulf has around 500 trillion cubic feet (14 trillion cubic meters) of gas, which represents about eight percent of the global reserves.
Forex Reserve Put at $100b
An official of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has stated that the country’s foreign exchange reserves stand at least $100 billion.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he told Fars News Agency that foreign exchange reserve is different from the foreign exchange reserve account, noting that figures given by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and some CBI officials refer to the foreign exchange reserve and not the foreign exchange reserve account.
The official explained that the foreign exchange reserve account fluctuates constantly due to various inputs and outputs and at certain times it might reach the zero level, without contradicting the statement that the country has at least $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves.
Iran’s abundant reserves of gold and various foreign currencies, which serve as a backing for foreign exchange reserves, have put the Islamic Republic in an unparalleled position in the world, he said.
He also urged the media to be more careful in reporting economic figures, particularly at a time when the countries that have imposed sanctions on Iran are trying to take advantage of every mistake made in the domestic media.
Earlier in April, Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Shamseddin Husseini said on the sidelines of the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington that Iran’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $100 billion in the Iranian year which ended on March 20, 2010.
He noted that the Islamic Republic’s foreign debt also stood at $20 billion during the last Iranian fiscal year.
Joint Bank With Kenya Planned
An Iranian official has announced an arrangement between Iran and Kenya to establish a joint bank, a report said.
Following the signing of last month’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Iran and Kenya, officials from the two countries underlined the need for establishing a joint bank in the near future in line with the provisions of the MoU, Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.
The latest announcement was made during a late Friday meeting between Jafar Hejazi, the governor of Iran’s southwestern province of Khuzestan, and Kenyan Ambassador to Tehran Rashid Ali.
Earlier in March, Governor Hejazi and Kenyan Premier Raila Odinga signed the MoU, which included an agreement to expand trade ties and cooperation between Imam Khomeini port and Kenya’s Port of Mombasa. The two sides also pledged to strengthen tourism, cultural and educational cooperation.
Hejazi said that the expansion of tourism industry and financial transactions along with expanding trade ties are among the priorities stipulated in the MoU.
The governor noted that the East African country could facilitate the export of Iran’s pharmaceutical products to Africa and transit that country’s key products, including coffee and tea, to regional countries via Iran.
For his part, the Kenyan envoy underlined the need for investment in his country and called for easing visa procedures for Kenyans eager to visit Iran.
Indian Oil Payment Freed in Germany
Iran has secured the release of some funds frozen in Germany which India had paid for imported Iranian oil.
“When Iran sells oil to a country, it should be able to receive the payments,” Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Mahmoud Bahmani was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
“One of these transactions was related to India, which had to pay for Iran’s oil ... but Germany froze the funds. A part of this money which had been frozen, has now been released and the rest will be made available in the future,” Bahmani said, without giving further details.
In December, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that oil trade payments to Iran could no longer be settled using a long-standing clearing house system run by regional central banks.
The White House, which wants governments to stop dealing with Iran because of its nuclear program, praised the move.
Germany agreed in March to help India settle payments to Iran via Hamburg-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH, European-Iranian Trade Bank) but later announced that handling the money through the bank had been halted, Reuters wrote.
The move followed discussions between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Indian government in which New Delhi said it was moving to a new payment method, a German official said earlier this month.
India pays some €9 billion ($12.77 billion) a year for Iranian oil.
Morales Welcomes Training Cooperation
Bolivian President Evo Morales in a meeting with Iranian Ambassador in La Paz Ali Reza Qezili appreciated Islamic Republic of Iran’s help in training oil experts in the South American state.
“We consider Iran as our friend and appreciate the Islamic Republic’s assistance in training experts of the Bolivian oil and gas company,” Morales said during the meeting on Friday.
According to an agreement between the Iranian Oil Ministry and the Bolivian Hydrocarbons and Energy, Iranian oil engineers will hold a three-month training course for their Bolivian counterparts in upstream industries, Fars News Agency reported.
Iran has in recent years expanded friendly ties with Latin America, specially in economic, trade and industrial fields.
Cell Phone Handset Production Rising
Iran is to manufacture five million cell phone handsets in the year to March 2012, announced the head of Hamrah Gooya Arvand Communication Company’s board of directors.
With this level of production, Iranian cell phone handsets would meet 30 percent of the domestic demand, said Abdorreza Moridavi, Mehr News Agency wrote.
He explained that Hamrah Gooya Arvand Communication Company plans to manufacture 150,000 handsets per month--which are marketed under the GLX brand.
Pointing to the inauguration of the new phase of GLX handset production line, he said the company plans to unveil 12 models by September.
Once the new phase comes on stream, the monthly output will reach 300,000 units initially and this figure will subsequently increase to 400,000 units, he stated.
Moridavi mentioned that GLX cell phone handsets are manufactured in accordance with global standards and state-of-the-art technologies.
GLX cell phone handset production line was launched by private sector at the cost of $1 million in 2006, he recalled.
He hoped that once the GLX handsets go into mass production, the smuggled handsets and substandard Chinese models would disappear from market.
Some 280 million square meters of tile and ceramic were produced in the last Iranian year which ended on March 20, indicating an 18.9-percent growth compared to the figure for the previous year.