Malaysia's state oil firm Petronas has signed a deal with with the National Iranian Oil Company to study two oilfields in Iran, the Malaysian firm said late Wednesday.
Petronas will conduct studies over six months in South Azadegan and Cheshmeh Khosh that are expected to conclude in the second quarter of 2017, Petronas said in a statement.
“This MOU is an important milestone for both PETRONAS and NIOC. Iran has provided an opportunity for growth in the Middle East beyond our current footprint in Iraq,” said Anuar Taib, executive vice president and chief executive of Upstream at Petronas during the signing ceremony. “We will bring our capabilities and expertise in oil and gas to Iran and look forward to a successful partnership with NIOC,” he added.
Iran, OPEC's third largest oil producer, plans to launch next year a new-style contract for helping develop its oil and gas fields, part of an effort to attract more foreign investment. It has in recent weeks signed agreements with other oil producers such as Russia's Gazprom and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Ltd for oilfield studies.
Petronas used to import 50,000-60,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude before it stopped buying due to Western sanctions.
Malaysia's cabinet on Wednesday also gave the go-ahead to pursue a free trade agreement with Iran, state news agency Bernama reported.
The potential for trade with Iran was enormous in areas such as oil and gas, and palm oil, trade minister Mustapa Mohamed was quoted as saying.