Iran has said that it will soon initiate drilling operations at Arash gas field despite a recent deal by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to jointly develop the giant offshore field, which they refer to as Durra.

Iranian Petroleum Minister Javad Owji recently said that Tehran has completed comprehensive studies of Arash, “by drilling exploration wells and conducting seismic surveys”, according to local media reports.

"With the installation of a jacket, the drilling operation in the field will begin soon," he noted.

Owji’s statement on the Arash/Durra gas field is likely to further escalate tensions between Iran and its Persian Gulf neighbours, which are also aiming to progress the field’s development.

Owji said that while Iran wants to negotiate and cooperate for the development of joint fields, “unilateral measures will not prevent the implementation of the project”.

Arash/Durra is a giant shared offshore gas field that extends across Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

‘Illegal’ move call

Iran has described the recent move by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to jointly develop the field as “illegal” and against international regulations.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said Tehran does not approve of the Saudi-Kuwait plan to develop the field, claiming it goes against ongoing procedures and previously held talks.

He added that Iran “stands ready to enter into talks with neighbourly countries of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the exploitation of the joint gas field, and to continue bilateral talks with Kuwait within the framework of the previous negotiations over the demarcation of the continental shelf”.

Khatibzadeh pointed out that Iran also reserves the right to exploit the field.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait recently said they agreed to develop Durra, which lies in the shared neutral zone between the two nations.

The agreement was signed between Kuwait Oil Minister Mohammad al Fares and Saudi counterpart Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud.

The field is expected to produce 1 billion cubic feet per day of gas and 84,000 barrels per day of condensate, Upstream understands.