Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Iran Hands Gulf Rig Back to Driller Amid Contract Dispute

Andy Critchlow, Bloomberg:
Iranian military forces handed back control of an oil rig seized yesterday in the Persian Gulf to its Romanian owners, a company official said.

``We have contact with the rig and the Iranians have now gone,'' said Radu Petrescu, spokesman for Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP), the Romanian owners of the platform, named Orizont, in a phone interview from Bucharest today.

The Romanian company was in the process of removing the rig from Iranian waters because of a contractual dispute with its client Oriental Oil Kish when it was fired on and boarded yesterday, the spokesman said. READ MORE

Iran, which holds the world's second-largest oil and gas reserves, responded yesterday to a European Union-led offer of incentives aimed at persuading it to halt uranium enrichment activities that are crucial to its nuclear program. The Islamic Republic has warned that they could disrupt energy supplies if sanctioned by the UN over its nuclear program.

Grup is owed $17 million in unpaid fees from Oriental Oil for the leasing of rigs, Petrescu said. The Romanian company is now lobbying Iranian authorities to allow it to remove the rig from the country's waters.

The Islamic Republic accused Grup on Aug. 15 of ``hijacking'' a rig from the same Iranian waters where Orizont operates close to the Straits of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world's daily crude supply moves on tankers.