May 13, 2008 / 3:21 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-StatoilHydro sees South Pars start-up in mid-2008

(Adds quotes, details)

OSLO, May 13 (Reuters) - Norwegian energy group StatoilHydro STL.OL said on Tuesday that it aims to bring its part of the big South Pars gas project off Iran on stream in mid-2008 but said it has no current plans to invest more in the Gulf country.

StatoilHydro is the offshore operator for development phases 6-8 of the South Pars gas and condensate field in the Iranian sector of the Gulf.

“During the summer months this will happen,” Chief Executive Eldar Seatre told Reuters, referring to the schedule for the start-up. He said output this year would be below 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

“We haven’t committed any (further) investment in Iran,” he said on the sidelines of a presentation of the group’s first-quarter results.

StatoilHydro has said its involvement in Iran, including its $300 million South Pars investment, may trigger sanctions from Washington, which seeks to isolate Tehran over its disputed nuclear ambitions.

“For us it’s a delicate situation, obviously, and first we will have to look further into the opportunities and then at the context of the restrictions involved,” Saetre said.

A fellow Iran investor, France’s Total (TOTF.PA), said on Tuesday that it saw problems with committing to new investment in Iran due to rising costs. Earlier this month Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) pulled out of developing another phase of South Pars.

The United States — which has threatened sanctions against companies investing large sums in Iran — as well as European nations fear Tehran’s nuclear programme is aimed at developing weapons, a claim the Gulf state denies.

“We have an open dialogue with the U.S. authorities, so we know about their perspective and they know about ours,” Saetre said.

StatoilHydro also has two oil service agreements offshore Iran, including exploration and drilling. (Reporting by Wojciech Moskwa)

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