At least four international companies have submitted plans to National Iranian Energy Company (NIOC) for the development of the onshore Azadegan oil field, according to a report by Oil Ministry news agency Shana.

Technical studies have been received by companies including Japan’s Inpex Corporation, Malaysia-based Petronas, UK-Dutch Shell and France’s Total, Shana reported citing the managing director of Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company Noureddin Shahnazizadeh.

The Azadegan field, which straddles the border with Iraq, has been one of the main focuses of development in Iran’s oil and gas sector following the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran in January 2016.

NIOC head Ali Kardor said in late May that invitation letters to bid for the Azadegan field development would be sent to the 29 companies that the state oil company prequalified in January for its future oil field developments.

The Azadegan development was previously split into two separate projects – North Azadegan and South Azadegan – both of which were contracted to China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) under buy-back agreements.

CNPC was removed from both projects in 2014, with NIOC saying the Chinese group had not made sufficient progress on increasing capacity. The targets were 150,000 barrels a day (b/d) for North Azadegan and 320,000 b/d for South Azadegan.

The new project is being tendered under the new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), drawn up to replace buy-back agreements and make Iranian oil and gas investments more attractive to overseas companies.