State oil and gas producer National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has signed a preliminary agreement to carry out studies on two southern fields with a private sector Malaysian firm.

Bukhary International Ventures (BIV) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NIOC to study the Golshan and Ferdowsi fields in the south of Iran.

The Malaysian firm, which is owned by billionaire industrialist Sayed Mokhtar al-Bukhary, first signed a buy-back service contract with NIOC in 2007.

Under the latest agreement, the Malaysian firm has seven months to submit the results of the study to NIOC.

Both fields are recent discoveries and are estimated to hold significant reserves of oil and gas.

The Golshan gas field, which is located 180km southeast off the southern coastal city of Bushehr and stretches 65km offshore the Persian Gulf, is estimated to hold 42 to 56 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The Ferdowsi field is located around 190km southeast of Bushehr and 85km offshore the Gulf.

The agreement with BIV is the second agreement signed between NIOC and a Malaysian firm since nuclear-related sanctions were lifted over Iran in January 2016..

In December, the Iranian national oil company signed a MoU with state-owned oil and gas firm Petronas to study the South Azadegan and Cheshmeh Khosh fields. The results of the six-month study will be concluded in the second quarter of 2017, according to Petronas.

Iran prequalified international oil companies to develop its oil and gas fields, as it aims to bring investment back to the country. The NIOC plans to tender contracts to develop selected fields under the new Iran Petroleum Contract in mid-February.