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Sat 2 Aug 2008 10:55 PM

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Iran says to complete oil project without Norway firm

StatoilHydro is the latest western company to withdraw from Iran project.

Iran will be able to complete the Anaran oil project on its own after Norwegian oil and gas group StatoilHydro said it will not make any new investments in the country, the oil minister said on Saturday."If this company avoids developing this project, Iran will be able to bring this project to fruition using domestic capability," Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari was quoted as saying by the Oil Ministry's website Shana.

StatoilHydro had been in talks to develop and invest in the Anaran project in the Azar oil field in Iran, talks that are now halted.

The Norwegian company's announcement on Friday followed US pressure to isolate the Islamic Republic over its nuclear plans, which the West fears are aimed at making bombs. Tehran denies the charge.

StatoilHydro, the latest in a series of foreign companies to back away from Iranian investment as perceived risk to investors has grown, said it would honour existing contracts.

Chief Executive Helge Lund said the company is in dialogue with US and European authorities about the status of its activities in Iran, where it is the offshore operator for development phases 6-8 on the South Pars gas field in the Gulf.

France's Total said earlier this year it would spend no more money on Iranian gas projects for now. But it reaffirmed that Iran remains a priority country for the company. Royal Dutch Shell has also scrapped investments in Iran.

US sanctions are meant to put pressure on Iran to accept international demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military uses. (Reuters)

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