Iran awards gas projects to Revolutionary Guard

AP, Saturday 30 Apr 2011

Military-based conglomerate is set to develop two southern fields, substantially boosting country's natural gas production

A business consortium connected to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard was awarded without tender two giant natural gas development projects, a senior Iranian official said Saturday.

Mahdi Fakoor, a senior Oil Ministry official, said the Revolutionary Guard's most important financial venture, Khatam-ol-Anbia, will develop two gas fields in the south of the country without tender.

"A contract to develop Halgan and Sefid Baghoon gas fields has been signed with Khatam-oil-Anbia ... without tender," the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Fakoor as saying.

Fakoor said development of the two gas fields located in Fars Province will result to production of 19 million cubic meters of natural gas a day.

Khatam-ol-Anbia is currently the largest contractor of government projects in Iran, handling 1,500 of the country's most important state projects over the past four years.

The conglomerate is already involved in developing Iran's giant South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf. Khatam al-Anbia is one of the country's largest corporations with stakes in mining, telecommunications and the oil and gas sector.

The guard, which was created after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to defend Iran's clerical rule, has become a vast military-based conglomerate, amassing a network of economic and political power that extends to virtually every aspect of life in Iran.

Its finances are not on the government budget and are free from any state oversight. The Revolutionary Guard is accountable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran.

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