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Japan to start developing Iranian oilfield despite US concern


TOKYO, Dec 29 (AFP): Japan will start to develop a massive oilfield in Iran next year despite opposition from the United States about the investment in the Islamic republic, a report said today.
Japan signed a two-billion-dollar deal with Tehran in February 2004 to develop the massive Azadegan oilfield in southwestern Iran to try to ensure stable oil supplies for the resource-poor Asian nation.
Inpex, the Japanese oil firm which acquired the development rights, plans to start work in early 2006, the Asahi Shimbun daily reported, quoting unnamed Inpex officials.
Production is expected to start in 2008, a year later than initially scheduled, the report said.
Washington has repeatedly objected to Tokyo about the project, keeping the Japanese government, the largest shareholder in Inpex, prudent over when work should begin.
"Inpex may lose its (development) rights if it fails to start the project soon," an Inpex official was quoted as saying in the report.
European and Chinese firms are also interested in acquiring shares in the Iranian oil development, it noted.