Full coverage: President Xi Visits Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran
President Xi Jinping is expected to leave Egypt for Iran later today. He hopes to enhance energy cooperation during his visit to Iran. Our reporter Tang Bo has been to the North Azadegan oilfield in South Iran, to see how a Chinese oil giant has been helping with production.
Challenging, but, rewarding—this is how Mostafa sees his job at the North Azadegan Oilfield Project, led by China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC. Working as a technical director who is specialized in drilling, Mostafa has seen the project grow from nothing, to a facility that produces 75,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
Mostafa is just one of more than 480 CNPC staff working at the oilfield in southwest Iran. It is located about 120 kilometers west of the city of Ahwaz on the margin of Iran-Iraq border. But it took nearly seven years to finish the construction for the project.
“The Iranian government was very strict on monitoring the project construction. Almost every single step on the schedule had to be approved by the government. That slowed the entire process. What’s more, due to the sanctions, some equipment we needed from the West was impossible to import into Iran. That made the construction work much more difficult,” said Cheng Zhongliang, project manager of CNPC North Azadegan Project.
The removal of sanctions means Iran is once again open to the world for business. Many global companies are already moving to resume trade and connections and the market here is set to become much more competitive. But this does not seem to worry the CNPC project leader.
“Our advantage is that we are more experienced than other investors in dealing with the Iranian government, which holds really high standards on oilfield projects. More importantly, Iran has been quite grateful that we helped them with their oil production during the sanction period, so we have a stable and friendly basis for further cooperation,” Cheng said.
That sentiment is echoed by Mostafa, who is looking forward to more energy cooperation between the two countries.
That is why the whole world is now ready to flock into the country when the sanctions are lifted. For the Chinese oil giant, that means competition, challenges, but also chances of exchange and cooperation with other investors who have better technologies. It could turn into powerful opportunity that benefits all parties.