Tehran: Iran on Tuesday signed contracts worth USD 21 billion with local firms to develop six gas fields, some of them awarded to the elite Revolutionary Guards, state media reported.
The state television website said the "contracts to develop the South Pars gas fields -- phases 13, 14, 19, 22, 23 and 24 -- were inked with three consortia including Khatam al-Anbiya," the Guards' industrial conglomerate.
The other deals were awarded to groups led by Iran's Industrial Development and Renovation Organisation (IDRO) and Petropars, the report said.
Iran previously discussed handing over phases 13 and 14 to Royal Dutch-Shell and Spain's Repsol YPF, but the two giants held off on a final decision as new UN sanctions loomed against Tehran over its nuclear drive.
"This is a very great day for the Iranian oil industry. These fields will be developed through Iranian investments," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television after the Oil Ministry signed the deals.
"The (investment) volume of the contracts for the six phases signed today is worth around USD 21 billion," he said, adding the total gas production when these fields become operational would be 200 million cubic metres per day.
The Guards, set up as an elite force to defend the 1979 Islamic revolution from internal and external threats, have been targeted in the fresh UN sanctions reportedly for their role in Tehran's nuclear programme.
Last month, the Guards said it was ready to take over energy projects in Iran if Western firms stayed away as over the past few years its presence in the country's economy has grown under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Its industrial wing Khatam al-Anbiya was created during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war to help rebuild the country, and has diversified over the years into companies dealing with mechanical engineering, energy, mining and defence.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council imposed the fourth set of sanctions on Iran for its controversial uranium enrichment programme which it suspects is aimed at making nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran.
First Published: Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 16:17