Belarus Seals Agreement to Extract Iranian Oil


TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran signed a contract with Belarus on Wednesday that will allow Minsk to extract oil from the Islamic state's southern Jofeir oil field, the oil ministry's news web site reported.

Shana news agency said the deal, with a value of at least $450 million over two phases, was the "first amended buy-back contract" and aimed to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day from the Jofeir deposit.

"The contract to develop Jofeir oil field was signed with [Belorusneft] this morning. ... The contract will be implemented in 24 months," Shana reported.

The agreement was first announced in May when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Belarus, and officials in Iran said later that month that they hoped to finalize the deal in two weeks' time.

Iran is keen to attract foreign investment to develop its energy sector, and Belarus is seeking new sources of energy for its economy amid frosty relations with Russia.

Foreign firms often complain about the terms of Iran's buy-back deals, which they say are not particularly generous. Shana did not make clear how the deal had been amended.

The United Nations has imposed two rounds of limited sanctions on Tehran since December over its disputed nuclear activities. Belarus has defended Iran's right to pursue its nuclear program.