Japan quits Iran's oil project?

Japan intends to quit a development project for the Azadegan, Iran's largest oilfield, say non-confirmed reports, which Hamid Reza Asefi, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, has dismissed.

As far as he knows, the Japanese government stays true to available understandings, and talks on Japan's contribution to the project are going on, Mr. Asefi said to the media.

Certain media outlets assume, however, that Japan is giving up the project under US pressure. Suggestively, Nezhad Hoseiniyan, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, has recently complained of related bilateral negotiations procrastinated. If they proceed at their present pace, Iran's current obligations may become invalidated, he warned.

Iran may seek overseas partners elsewhere. Russian-based petroleum companies are among its options.

The Azadegan oilfield, recently prospected in the country's southwest, is estimated at 26 billion barrels, and its development costs US$2.8 billion.

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