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. Iran says Japan can regain lost stake in oil project: Kyodo
TOKYO, Oct 7 (AFP) Oct 07, 2006
Iran said Saturday Japan could regain its lost stake in a project to develop Iran's Azadegan oil field in the future, according to Kyodo News.

"If, in the future, Inpex solves its domestic problems, it is possible in the event of an agreement for Inpex to get back its shares or parts of its shares," said Mehdi Bazargan, managing director of Petroleum Engineering and Development Co., according to Kyodo.

The Iranian firm was set up in 1994 to manage and supervise major oil and gas projects at National Iranian Oil.

Japan announced on Friday that it would have only a 10 percent stake in the Azadegan oil field, not the 75 percent agreed when the two countries signed the two billion-dollar development deal in 2004.

On Saturday, Japan's government-backed oil developer Inpex in charge of the project on the Japanese side renewed its intention to continue its participation.

"It is meaningful not only for them but also for us to contribute by continuing participating in the project," Inpex chairman Kunihiko Matsuo told reporters in Tokyo after he returned from Tehran.

Analysts have speculated that Japan may be deliberately stalling as it expects Iran to face sanctions over its nuclear program that would make the oil field a poor investment.

Japan had earlier defied pressure from the United States, its closest ally, to cancel the deal, which was seen as important for Iran's integration in the world economy at a time when it is threatened with sanctions.

Japan, the world's second largest economy, is almost entirely dependent on the Middle East for its oil and imports about 15 percent of its total oil consumption from Iran.

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