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China to sign gas deal with Iran

China’s national offshore oil corporation (CNOOC) declared it is willing to finalize talks with Iran on North Pars gas field.

The company said it keeps holding talks with Iran’s national gas company on a gas deal worth $16 billion to put it into practice. The two companies signed a memorandum last year to expand gas reserves of the North Pars gas field where as the $16-billion agreement was postponed to be signed through what called international sensitivities. Under the initial agreement on North Pars gas field contract, the Chinese company was to buy 10 million tons of Iran’s liquefied natural gas per year. “The two sides are still in talks on the issue,” the source said. Under the initial agreement, CNOOC also was to purchase North Pars output for 25 years in the form of liquefied natural gas.

If the deal goes through, it will be the second big oil and gas contract with Iran for energy-scarce China in several months, following a $2 billion agreement by Chinese oil refiner Sinopec to develop the Yadavaran oil field. Beijing has defended its growing business ties with Iran against criticism by the US, which is pushing for China and others to abide by United Nations sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to rein in its nuclear program. “Cooperation between CNOOC and Iran is a business act between enterprises,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters recently in a routine briefing. “We believe that the actions to address this problem should not undermine normal trade and economic co-operation with Iran,” Liu said. (Alalam, Iran)