A Statoil representative told MEED in early September that the firm was still negotiating with the intention to participate in the project’s offshore development as an operator, which would be equivalent to a 15-20 per cent stake in the whole scheme. The representative said that a decision would be made in September, and that all options were still open.

It is understood that Statoil wants to conclude an agreement before offshore subcontracting works have progressed too far.

Petropars has already awarded the project’s two offshore packages, covering topsides, pipelines and jackets. The local Sadrain August won the $394 million contract to build and supply three topsides and to lay three 105-kilometre pipelines. Iran Shipbuilding & Offshore Industries Company (ISOICO)and the UK’s SLP Engineeringin June signed up for the estimated $30 million package to supply three jackets.

On the onshore package of phases 6-8, two Japanese-led groups and one South Korean-led consortium are preparing to submit bids on 22 September for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for treatment facilities.

Petropars is also trying to bring on board an international partner for the overall project in view of the anticipated withdrawal of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which acquired a stake in the three phases earlier this year through its takeover of the UK’s Enterprise Oil. France’s TotalFinaElf has emerged as a potential candidate to become involved in the scheme.