The National Iranian Oil Company is eager to develop offshore oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea in collaboration with foreign majors.
"To expand oil and gas development activities in the Caspian region, we need to reach out to international companies for funds, technology and partnership," NIOC chief Ali Kardor was quoted as saying by the Oil Ministry news agency Shana on Sunday.
The Caspian region, which includes Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world is an increasingly important source of global energy production. Traditionally an oil-producing area, the Caspian area's role and significance as a gas producer has been on the rise in recent years.
Despite making significant headways in exploiting oil and gas resources in the south, energy developments in Iran's northern regions have made few headlines in the past several years.
According to the US Energy Information Association, between 2000 and 2012, Turkmenistan produced more than 70 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Caspian basin, followed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Iran's production has been zero.
Kardor stressed that Khazar Exploration and Production Company (KEPCO) – a subsidiary of the NIOC – has been given new impetus to open investment talks with international oil and gas majors since economic sanctions were lifted last year.
Founded in 1998, KEPCO handles operations associated with oil and gas development and investment in the northern provinces of Mazandaran, Golestan and Gilan that straddle the Caspian coast.
NIOC officials said last year that British, Dutch and Norwegian companies had submitted proposals to survey Iran's Caspian reserves, but noted that an exploration/production contract is unlikely to materialize anytime soon.
In a conference last year, Iran introduced three exploratory blocks in the Caspian region, namely 24, 26 and 29 as well as Sardar-e-Jangal, as part of its new oil and gas contracts to attract foreign investment.
In 2012, Iran discovered a new oil layer with in-place reserves of two billion barrels in Sardar-e-Jangal oil and gas field off the northern Iranian province of Gilan in the Caspian Sea.