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European firms attend Iran gas conference

October 05, 2008

TEHRAN, Oct 4: A natural gas conference sponsored in part by two of Europe’s largest energy companies opened on Saturday in Tehran.

The two-day conference is sponsored by European energy giants Total of France and OMV AG of Austria, as well as Crescent Petroleum of the United Arab Emirates.

“Participation of (European) companies and their interest in investing in Iran’s oil and gas sector, despite strong US and Israeli pressures, shows that economic interests supersede political considerations,” Iran’s state-run radio said on Saturday.

Russia currently supplies a third of European Union oil imports and more than 40 per cent of the natural gas EU countries buy from abroad. But Russia’s recent conflict with Georgia and the country’s decision to cut off gas to Ukraine in January 2006 over a price dispute have fueled Europe’s efforts to diversify its energy sources and supply routes.

“Development of new transportation routes is the key prerequisite to enlarge European import capacities for new supply sources,” said OMV Senior Vice President Michael Peisser, who addressed the conference on Saturday.

“In the light of little resources of its own, Europe is surrounded by countries and regions with high natural gas potential, especially Iran, who will play an important role in future global gas production,” he said. Iran has the world’s second largest natural gas reserves and is the second largest oil exporter among the Opec.

OMV, central Europe’s leading oil and gas firm, has been exploring oil fields in south-western Iran since 2001 and has been pursuing a multibillion dollar oil deal with the country. Swiss energy trading company EGL signed a multibillion contract with Iran in March to buy natural gas over the next 25 years.—AP