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Iran threatens to exploit contested Gulf gas field

July 31, 2023 at 12:44 pm

Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Eng Javad Owji arrives at the 8th OPEC International Seminar in Vienna, Austria, on July 5, 2023 [ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images]

Iran is to pursue what it believes are its rights over the disputed Durra/Arash offshore gas field in the Gulf if the other parties fail to cooperate, the country’s Oil Minister Javad Owji said yesterday.

“If there is no willingness to cooperate, Iran will pursue its rights and benefits, including the exploitation and exploration of the Arash gas field, and will not tolerate any violation of its rights,” the minister added. However, he reiterated that Tehran is open to diplomacy regarding an amicable settlement over border and maritime issues with neighbours Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which also claim the field.

Owji’s comments come after his Kuwaiti counterpart, Saad Al-Barrak said on Thursday that the Gulf state plans to commence drilling and production from the field without waiting for border demarcation with Iran. Al-Barrak has said previously that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have “exclusive rights” in the Durra gas field. He called on Iran to validate its claim to the field by demarcating its own maritime borders first. Earlier this month, Kuwait and Riyadh rejected Iran’s claims and insisted that the field’s “resources are jointly owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, only.”

The maritime border demarcation dispute between Iran and Kuwait dates back more than 60 years, reported PressTV. It noted that some estimates suggest that more than 70 per cent of the reserves of the disputed gas field — said to contain up to 60 trillion cubic feet of gas — lies in waters claimed by the Islamic Republic.

The dispute comes at a time of rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of a Chinese-brokered deal in March. Last month, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said his country has “no limit” for expanding relations with Kuwait, with which it resumed diplomatic relations last year.

READ: Iran says Foreign Ministry will follow up on Durra field