Iran is expected to tender the development of the recently discovered Azadegan field before 2 June, according to the head of the National Iranian Oil Company.

Invitation letters will be sent to the 29 companies that the state oil company prequalified in January, Ali Kardor said in an interview with Press TV.

The UK/Dutch Shell, France’s Total, China National Petroleum Corporation, Sinioc, Russia’s Lukoil, Malaysia’s Pertamina as well as Austria’s OMV are among exploration and production companies to be invited.

“Tender documents would be sent to any of those companies that voices interest in Azadegan,” said Kardor.

It is understood that Iran is likely to tender both South and North Azadegan together.

The tender on Azadegan was expected in March after the state oil company missed its target in January.

It was further delayed as Iran prepared for its presidential elections in May.

The re-election of Hasan Rouhani – who pushed for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions over Iran and opening up of its energy sector – will renew confidence in oil majors to re-enter the country.

Japan’s Inpex, which abandoned the oil field development project in 2010 signed a study agreement with the NIOC earlier this year.

Kardor hinted that the field is likely to be developed in consortium with British, Japanese and French firms.

Production at South Azadegan touched 80,000 barrels a day (b/d) last month, crossing the 50,000 b/d for the first time in a decade.

This figure is set to double to 160,000 b/d by the end of the current fiscal year.

The project is expected to be developed in two phases – the first will bring production to 320,000 b/d, while the second expected to raise production to 600,000 b/d. Production at North Azadegan stood at 65,000 b/d at the end of last month.

Iran is prioritising the development of fields along the border with Iraq as it looks to upgrade its ageing energy infrastructure and reclaim market share lost to sanctions.