Under the agreement, Statoil will take a 40 per cent stake in the project’s offshore development, which is equivalent to a 15-20 per cent share in the estimated $2,500 million-3,000 million scheme. Statoil will also assume the role of offshore operator. Jersey-registered National Iranian Oil Companysubsidiary Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), which earlier this year guaranteed to raise the required financing for the project should attempts to introduce a foreign investor fail, will provide additional finance (MEED 21:6:02).

The conclusion of the deal will end months of uncertainty surrounding the project, following the announcement that the Royal Dutch/Shell Grouphas decided to relinquish the stake it acquired in the project earlier this year through its takeover of the UK’s Enterprise Oil.

The development comes amid continuing efforts by the local Sadra to find a subcontractor for the pipeline portion of the deal. According to the $394 million contract signed with Petropars in August, Sadra is to build and supply three topsides and to lay three 105-kilometre pipelines.

The company has managed to bring on board Paris-based offshore engineering company Doris Engineeringfor the topsides, but has yet to conclude agreements on the pipelaying portion. It is understood that talks are being held with four firms, including Italy’s Saipem, which is doing the pipelaying on South Pars phases 4-5.

Petropars says that Sadra has been given until 19 October to conclude negotiations with potential partners, or else will face termination of the contract. Should Sadra’s deal be cancelled, the gap is set to be filled by a team of the French/Norwegian Stolt Offshoreand Iran Shipbuilding & Offshore Industries Company (ISOICO), which ranked second after the bid evaluation.

It is understood that the ISOICO/Stolt team has submitted a written statement to Petropars, saying it is in a position to carry out the project at the price offered by Sadra and to commence with works immediately.

Bid evaluation is ongoing for the onshore package of phases 6-8, with prices set to be opened on 27 October. Petropars in September received three final proposals, backed by financing schemes, for the estimated $1,200 million contract to set up onshore facilities on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis.