The French oil company Total has taken on Malaysia’s Petronas as a partner in the $600 million Sirri oil field development scheme and awarded the main construction contracts. The Sirri project is proceeding on schedule to start production in early 1998, achieving an eventual output of 120,000 barrels a day (b/d).

Kazakhstan has an in-principle agreement with Iran to swap oil, allowing the Kazakhs to start exporting 40,000 b/d of crude. Pricing and other details are still being discussed.

Petrochemicals production will reach 10 million tonnes a year for the first time this year. This is nearly 20 times the level in 1988 at the end of the war with Iraq. Officials say output is due to increase to 35 million tonnes by 2005.