BG officials have been frequent visitors to Tehran in recent months. Now a tender is expected to be issued for the LNG project by late November, suggesting some form of agreement will be reached by then. NIGEC chief Rokneddin Javadi told MEED in September the company would start the project even if a development company had not been established, and would continue discussions on forming the venture while the tender process was under way.

BG is understood to be negotiating for a position as the sole foreign downstream partner in the project, which would likely give it an equity share of about 50 per cent and a product offtake share of 100 per cent. However, it is still unclear how many trains the project will involve and how many phases will be developed.

BG has made little secret of its interest in the LNG programme. Most recently, in a statement issued on 20 October confirming the order of three LNG carriers from a South Korean shipyard, the company said it was developing LNG projects in several countries including Iran. BG is pursuing marketing options in India and Europe, but has not yet won firm commitments from customers to purchase Iranian gas. Three other LNG proposals made by foreign companies with representatives in Iran are looking at those markets and the Far East.

The upstream elements of the scheme are also undecided. France’s Totalis now widely reported to be the firm favourite to develop the South Pars 11 gas field, from which feedstock for the LNG project is likely to come. The company is also expected to push for a downstream role through its own LNG proposal, which was made in partnership with Malaysia’s Petronas. However, a Total upstream deal would not necessarily hinder the project proposed by BG and NIGEC because so much gas from existing or imminent South Pars developments will soon be coming on stream.