Iran Courts Russia, Kazakhstan For Oil

TEHRAN (UPI) — Kazakhstan and Russia could emerge as partners for Iran in the 970-mile Neka-Jask oil pipeline, Iranian officials said Tuesday.

Neka-Jask would travel from the Caspian port of Neka to Jask in the Gulf of Oman, linking several regional suppliers, including Russia and Turkmenistan. If approved, the $2 billion project would carry around 1 million barrels of oil per day.

“Iran’s northern neighbors are willing to take part in the project but Kazakhstan and Russia are more probable to cooperate,” Noghrekar Shirazi, the Iranian Deputy oil minister, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

Shirazi said supply commitments were needed for the pipeline, noting Kazakhstan holds the greatest potential because of its lucrative resource fields.

Oil production from Kazakhstan is expected to grow in the next decade as its offshore Tengiz and Kashagan fields as foreign investments increase.

Iran intends to open bids to contractors for the pipeline soon, with the hopes of launching the project by as early as 2012.

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