Iran’s president says new oil field with 50bn barrels discovered

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, delivering a speech to a crowd in the central city of Yazd, said the newly-found oil field would increase Tehran’s proven reserves by over a third. (AFP via Iranian Presidency)
Updated 10 November 2019

Iran’s president says new oil field with 50bn barrels discovered

  • Rouhani said the discovered field was located in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province
  • The field covers 2,400 square km and would increase Iran’s proven reserves by over a third

TEHRAN: Iran has discovered a new oil field in the country’s south with over 50 billion barrels of crude, its president said Sunday, a find that could boost the country’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad over US sanctions.
The announcement by Hassan Rouhani comes as Iran faces crushing American sanctions after the US pulled out of its nuclear deal with world powers last year.
Rouhani made the announcement in a speech in the desert city of Yazd. He said the field was located in Iran’s southern Khuzestan province, home to its crucial oil industry.
Some 53 billion barrels would be added to Iran’s proven reserves of roughly 150 billion, he said.
“I am telling the White House that in the days when you sanctioned the sale of Iranian oil and pressured our nation, the country’s dear workers and engineers were able to discover 53 billion barrels of oil in a big field,” Rouhani said.
Oil reserves refer to crude that’s economically feasible to extract. Figures can vary wildly by country due to differing standards, though it remains a yardstick of comparison among oil-producing nations.
Iran currently has the world’s fourth-largest proven deposits of crude oil and the world’s second-largest deposits of natural gas. It shares a massive offshore field in the Arabian Gulf with Qatar.
The new oil field could become Iran’s second-largest field after one containing 65 billion barrels in Ahvaz. The field is 2,400 square kilometers (925 square miles), with the deposit some 80 meters (260 feet) deep, Rouhani said.
Since the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, the other countries involved — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — have been struggling to save it. However, they have offered no means by which Iran can sell its oil abroad.
Any company or government that buys Iran’s oil faces harsh US sanctions, the threat of which also stopped billions of dollars in business deals and sharply depreciated Iran’s currency, the rial.
Iran has since gone beyond the deal’s stockpile and enrichment limits, as well as started using advanced centrifuges barred by the deal. It also just began injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at an underground facility.
The collapse of the nuclear deal coincided with a tense summer of mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities that the US blamed on Iran. Tehran denied the allegation, though it did seize oil tankers and shoot down a US military surveillance drone.


Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

Updated 17 January 2020

Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

  • Leaders agree initial $6.8bn projects plan, including initiative to build a replica of Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s business community on Thursday welcomed the UAE’s pledge to pump tens of billions of dollars into a wide range of key sector projects.

President Joko Widodo and his entourage secured an overall $22.9 billion deal during an official two-day visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this week covering the fields of energy, logistics, port construction, mining, and agriculture.

It was also revealed that the delegation brokered a UAE commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

At a bilateral meeting, the Indonesian leader and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan witnessed the signing of 11 business accords between the two countries. Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said the UAE had committed to investing $6.8 billion out of the total agreed spending package into the initiatives.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s chief minister for maritime affairs and investment, described the UAE’s pledges as possibly being “the biggest deals in Indonesia’s history, secured with the UAE within only six months,” referring to the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia last July.

While most lauded the deal, some Indonesian business leaders remained cautious over the long-term prospects for the projects.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee and OIC at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the schemes could trigger a wide-ranging domino effect through job creation and other business ventures.

“The government needs to have a strong lobbying team that can follow up these deals and push them into investment realizations. We have had such commitments from other Gulf countries, but there was no further lobbying and the pledges were hardly realized,” he told Arab News.

Zaini Alawi, a businessman who exports and imports between Indonesia and the Middle East, said: “It would set a good precedent to attract other Gulf countries to invest here if Indonesia shows it could aptly manage these investment deals.”

Director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, Achmad Rizal Purnama, told Arab News that the $6.8 billion commitment from the UAE was only the first phase of a long-term program.

Widodo and the crown prince also witnessed the signing of five government cooperation agreements in health, agriculture, Islamic affairs, and counterterrorism.

Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said one of the main aspects of the cooperation agreement would be the promotion of religious moderation and raising awareness of the dangers of extremism.

FASTFACT

The UAE has pledged to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

Noting that the UAE had pledged to fund the construction of a replica of the Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Solo, the president’s hometown in Java, the minister pointed out that the grant was part of a commitment by the two countries to establish a mosque that welcomed all people and served a pivotal role in promoting the middle path of Islam.

Riza Widyarsa, a Middle East expert at the University of Indonesia, told Arab News that the cooperation deal could help more Indonesians to understand that not all countries in the Middle East observed conservative Islam. “They are also very active in countering religious extremism and radicalism,” he said.

In addition to the multi-billion-dollar projects, Purnama said Indonesia had also secured the UAE’s commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund into which the UAE, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and Japan’s SoftBank would inject funding.

And according to Pandjaitan, the UAE had pledged to be “the biggest contributor” to the fund.

The fund would be used to finance Indonesia’s ambitious infrastructure development projects and the construction of its proposed new capital in East Kalimantan, a relocation that has been estimated to cost $33 billion and of which Indonesia could only afford 19 percent.

He said all parties involved would meet in Tokyo soon to set up the structure of the fund and to finalize the plan, which the government expected to launch by mid-2020, a year after the crown prince proposed the idea to Widodo.

“This could be the first time that big capitalists work together in a single project,” Pandjaitan added.