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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait call on Iran to hold talks on energy-rich offshore area

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Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have renewed their call for Iran to hold negotiations to determine the eastern limit of the Durra gas field, which is submerged in the Arabian Gulf, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have agreed to speed up developing the Durra gas field which is expected to produce one billion cubic feet of natural gas and 84,000 barrels of condensates per day.

The agreement is based on the document signed on March 21 between the Kingdom and Kuwait to develop the gas field, and it stipulates dividing the production equally between the two states.

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Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding on December 24, 2019, to develop the field.

They had previously called on Iran to negotiate to demarcate the eastern limit of the gas field, but Tehran did not meet these calls, the ministry added.

Iran, however, has rejected the agreement reached between the two Gulf states describing it as illegal, according to Fars News Agency.

Iran “reserves its right to operate the Durra gas field,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on March 26, adding that the energy-rich offshore area is “a joint gas field” between Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and that parts of the field lie in maritime borders that have yet to be demarcated between Iran and Kuwait.

Khatibzadeh also said that based on international rules, operating the gas field must be carried out in coordination among all three countries, adding that the agreement between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is thus “illegal.”

Kuwait, however, rejected these claims and said that the offshore gas field is “purely a Kuwaiti-Saudi field.”

Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah said on March 29 that only Kuwait and Saudi Arabia “have the right to invest” in the field, according to state news agency (KUNA).

Iran and Kuwait have previously held talks to delimit their continental shelf boundaries in the Arabian Gulf, but they failed to reach any agreements, according to AFP.

The dispute over the gas field erupted between Iran and Kuwait in the 1960s when each country granted two different companies the right of exploration in offshore fields that overlap.

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