India’s ONGC Videsh to bid for South Azadegan oilfield, rework Farzad-B cost
India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. will bid for development rights of Iran’s giant South Azadegan Oilfield in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan in direct competition with global giants such as Shell, France’s Total, Petronas of Malaysia and Russia’s Gazprom.
The company, which is the overseas arm of India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd., will also rework the $6.2 billion cost of developing Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf, which it had discovered a decade back, to get Iran to award rights of the field to it, sources privy to the development said, bloombergquint.com reported.
ONGC Videsh is one of the 34 companies Iran prequalified last year for the development of South Azadegan field, which contains an estimated 33 billion barrels of in-situ oil, of which six billion barrels are deemed recoverable. The field currently produces about 80,000 barrels of oil per day (four million tons per annum) and output is envisaged to touch 320,000 barrels a day (16 million tons).
Sources said ONGC Videsh will make a formal bid when National Iranian Oil Company opens a tender for developing the South Azadegan oilfield.
Other firms prequalified include Japan’s Inpex Corporation, China’s CNPC, Eni of Italy, Sinopec of China and Russia’s Gazprom, Lukoil and Rosneft.
Sources said ONGC Videsh had last year made its ‘best’ offer to invest $11 billion in developing Farzad-B field as well as in building the infrastructure to export the gas but Iran has deterred awarding the rights of the field to the Indian firm owing to differences over pricing of the fuel.
With the deal on the verge of collapsing, ONGC Videsh has offered to do just the upstream part of bringing the field to production while leaving the marketing of the fuel to Iran, they said, adding that the upstream part is to cost $6.2 billion while another $5 billion will be required to build a liquefied natural gas export facility.
Iran believes the upstream investment should not be more than $5.5 billion.
Farzad B was discovered by ONGC Videsh in the Farsi block about 10 years ago. The field has an in-place gas reserve of 21.7 trillion cubic feet, of which 12.5 tcf are recoverable.
On Saturday, India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan held talks with his Iranian counterpart counterpart Bijan Namdar Zanganeh in New Delhi during which he pressed for a stake for Indian companies in a producing oilfield and promised to raise crude oil import from the Persian Gulf nation in the year beginning April to reverse the reductions introduced in the current financial year.
Zangeneh said he was ‘optimistic’ about signing of an agreement awarding rights of Iran’s giant Farzad-B gas field to its discoverer, ONGC Videsh. A team of officials led by ONGC Videsh will be visiting Tehran this week to renegotiate terms.
He said Indian public and private sector oil companies will in financial year 2018-19 buy 0.5 million barrels of crude oil per day (25 million tons).
This will be 25 percent more than current fiscal year’s imports estimated at 370,000 barrels per day (18.5 million tons).
India had in the current fiscal year cut oil imports from Iran by nearly 25 percent over delays in the awarding of Farzad-B development rights to ONGC Videsh. In 2016-17, India had imported 510,000 barrels per day (25.5 million tons) of oil from Iran.
Pradhan said Iran has given ‘good incentives’ on crude oil exports to India.
“It will be beneficial for India to buy more crude from Iran rather than from other countries. We have agreed that India will buy more crude oil from Iran in coming days.”
Like the recent acquisition of 10 percent stake in 20 million tons a year producing oilfield in the UAE, India made a case for a stake in a producing Iranian oilfield, he said, adding that on Indian horizon was a field like South Azadegan.
“The deadlock we had on the viability of Farzad-B block, its size of capex, return, timeline, we discussed all the three issues. We have exchanged our positions. Next week our business delegation will go to Tehran to discuss all these issues.”
The two sides, he said, decided to remove “all the bottlenecks on all the three issues. On the capex, business model and timeline. We have decided today to reopen and re-engage on all three issues again”.
Leader urges efforts to boost Iran’s defense capabilities
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei urged efforts to maintain and boost Iran’s defense capabilities, addressing enemies for disputing the country’s missile program.
“Without a moment’s hesitation, the country must move to acquire whatever is necessary for defense, even if the whole world is opposed to it,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks on Sunday in a meeting with thousands of people from the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, in commemoration of the February 18, 1978 uprising in the provincial capital, Tabriz.
Describing plans to develop and renovate Iran’s defense strategies and equipment as a top priority, the Leader said while nukes and weapons of mass destruction are deemed Haram (religiously forbidden), the Islamic Republic will “vigorously” keep gaining whatever else it may need for defense.
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All 66 on board killed as plane crashes in southwest Iran
Leader, president offer condolences to victims’ families, nation
An Iranian passenger plane crashed on Sunday in a foggy, mountainous region of southwest Iran, killing all 66 people on board.
Aseman Airlines flight EP3704 disappeared from radar around 45 minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport, the airline’s public relations chief Mohammad Tabatabaei said.
The ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop, in service for 25 years, left the capital around 0800 (0430 GMT) and was heading toward the city of Yasouj, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) to the south. The regional plane smashed into the Zagros Mountains near its destination
Officials said emergency teams were struggling to locate the wreckage in blizzard conditions.
“After searching the area, we learned that unfortunately ... our dear passengers had lost their lives,” Tabatabaei said. “This plane had 60 passengers, 59 adults and one child, as well as a pilot, a copilot, two flight attendants and two air marshals on board.”
Due to foggy condition, rescue helicopters couldn’t reach the crash site in the Zagros Mountains. Tabatabaei said the plane crashed into Mount Dena, which is about 4,400 meters (14,435 feet) tall.
Jalal Pouranfar, regional head for Iran’s emergency services, said rescue and relief teams had been sent to the possible area of the crash.
Seyyed Nour-Mohammad Mousavi, head of the local Red Crescent office, said a drone had been dispatched to help find the wreckage.
A total of 120 people from 30 different emergency teams were sent to help with the search, another Red Crescent official said.
Locals described hearing the crash, though no one had found the crash site yet.
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Zarif: Israel’s ‘myth of invincibility’ has crumbled
Iran says will respond if US withdraws from nuclear deal
Iran’s Foreign Minister said on Sunday the shooting down of an Israeli jet after it bombed a military site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility,” reacting to a speech delivered earlier by Israel’s premier.
“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon.”
“Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said.
He was responding to Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the conference hours before, in which the Israeli prime minister, holding a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone, accused Iran of trying to impose an “empire” across the Middle East.
“What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled,” Zarif said of Netanyahu’s remarks, which followed the Feb. 10 downing of an Israeli F-16 jet.
Zarif also slammed Netanyahu for staging the “cartoonish circus” by showing the fragment at the event.
“You were the audience for a cartoonish circus just this morning which does not even deserve the dignity of a response,” the Iranian foreign minister said. He said Israel was trying “to create these cartoonish images to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they’re facing.”
David Ivry, a former Israeli Air Force chief, said earlier this month he believed it was the first time an Israeli F-16 was brought down since Israel began using the jets in the 1980s.
Anti-aircraft fire downed the jet as it was returning from a bombing raid on military positions in Syria.
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Israeli forces kill two Gazan teens
Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers in the Gaza Strip, medical sources said on Sunday.
The Saturday Israeli airstrikes marked one of the most serious escalations in the Hamas-ruled territory since the movement and Israel fought a war in 2014, AFP reported.
Israel’s Army claimed it attacked 18 targets belonging to Hamas in two waves of airstrikes.
Two Palestinians were injured in airstrikes which hit three bases belonging to Hamas in the east of the blockaded Gaza enclave, Palestinian sources said.
According to witnesses, the two dead Palestinians were shot by Israeli forces near the border on Saturday.
They were identified by the Gaza Health Ministry as Salam Sabah and Abdullah Abu Sheikha, both 17, who were killed east of Rafah in the south of the enclave.
The Israeli Army claimed that its forces had fired “warning shots” at a number of Palestinians approaching the border fence “in a suspicious manner.”
The Israeli attacks came after an explosive device wounded four Israeli soldiers on patrol near the border between the occupied territories and the Palestinian coastal enclave. Hamas said it “holds Israel responsible for any escalation in the Gaza Strip.”
Meanwhile, the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, said in a statement that its anti-aircraft defenses had been used against Israeli strikes.
The Brigades also affirmed their right to respond to Israel’s ongoing aggression against Palestinian citizens in Gaza.
Additionally, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad resistance movement said, “The land of Gaza will not serve as a picnic for the forces of the enemy. The sons of Gaza will respond with rage to the Israeli aggression and the continuation of the siege.”
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
Tel Aviv has waged three wars on the coastal enclave since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
Tensions between the Palestinians and Israel have been high since US President Donald Trump recognized Beit-ul-Moqaddas as the capital of Israel in December.
Student tells Trump at Florida anti-gun rally: ‘Shame on you’
A student survivor of the Parkland school shooting called out US President Donald Trump on Saturday (Feb. 17) over his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association, in a poignant address to an anti-gun rally in Florida.
“To every politician taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” said Emma Gonzalez, assailing Trump over the multimillion-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby - and prompting the crowd to chant in turn: “Shame on you!”
Wednesday’s massacre, which claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has fueled urgent calls for an end to the national deadlock over gun control – with a string of shooting survivors rallying behind the cause, AFP wrote.
The gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was able to legally buy an assault rifle despite a history of troubling and violent behavior.
In Washington, however, the political response has made clear that the powerful NRA pro-gun lobby remains formidable, while Trump himself suggested the root cause of mass shootings was a crisis of mental health – making no mention of gun control.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and... how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” said Gonzalez.
“It doesn’t matter because I already know. Thirty million,” she told the rally attended by fellow students, parents and local officials, citing the sum spent by the NRA to support Trump’s election bid and defeat Hillary Clinton.
Dividing that sum by the number of shooting victims in the United States so far this year, Gonzalez asked: “Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump?”
The young woman’s powerful address immediately went viral, with her name a top trending topic on Twitter.
The US leader also tweeted a day after the massacre that that neighbors and fellow students had failed to flag Cruz to the authorities.
“We did,” Gonzalez said, her shaking with emotion. “Time and time again. Since he was in middle school. It was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter.”
US authorities have come under mounting scrutiny for failing to act on a series of warning signs.
The FBI admitted on Friday it received a chilling warning in January from a tipster who said Cruz could be planning a mass shooting, but that agents failed to follow up.
Trump said Saturday the FBI was so caught up in the Russia probe that it failed to heed signs which could have prevented the Parkland school shooting.
His comments came as he faces criticism from survivors of the attack over his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association, and after several thousand rallied in Florida to demand urgent action on gun control.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” he wrote on Twitter.
“They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”