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Iran Ready to Talk with Kuwait Over Disputed Gas Field: Foreign Ministry

By Nigar Bayramli February 2, 2024

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The Arash/Durra gas field is located in waters where the maritime borders are contested by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran. / The Craddle

Iran is ready to continue bilateral talks with Kuwait over the Arash (Durra) offshore gas field, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanani.

“Iran has repeatedly declared, that the Islamic Republic is ready to continue bilateral negotiations with Kuwait in line with the results of the previous talks over exploiting the joint hydrocarbon resources in the Arash field and demarcation of maritime borders,” Kanani said in a statement published on the Foreign Ministry's website on January 31.

"Iran believes reaching an agreement on this matter is achievable through constructive cooperation, respect for mutual interests and positive interaction," he added.

Referring to statements by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the rights of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the gas field, Kanani warned against "unilateral claims" in various media, emphasising that they hinder the management of the issue based on shared interests.

Iran is trying to negotiate with Kuwait to resolve a dispute over the Arash/Durra gas field in the Submerged Divided Zone between the two countries, repeatedly calling for a border demarcation agreement to determine its right to exploit part of the field.

The dispute over the gas field, dates back to the 1960s when Iran and Kuwait were awarded overlapping offshore concessions for the field following its discovery. The field is located in waters where the maritime borders are contested by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iran insists that about 40% of the gas field is located in Iranian waters, which Kuwait denies. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have asked Iran to engage in talks to define maritime borders in the Gulf.

The Arash/Durra gas field is estimated to hold 20 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. In 2022, Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Saudi Aramco signed an agreement to develop the offshore field to produce 1 billion cubic feet of gas and 84,000 barrels of liquefied gas per day.

In a recent joint declaration, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reasserted ownership of the disputed gas field, calling on Iran to engage in negotiations over the eastern border of the divided submerged area, treating Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as a unified party, adhering to international law.

“Durra field is located entirely in Kuwait's exclusive maritime areas, and the natural resources in the divided submerged area, including the entire Durra field, are shared between the State of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia only, and they have full exclusive rights to exploit them,” the statement said on January 31.

They categorically rejected any claims of rights for any other party in this field or the divided submerged area.

In late December, the GCC supreme council stated that “only Saudi Arabia and Kuwait” have sovereign rights over the field.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait formed the Al Khafji Joint Operations (KJO) to develop the field on a 50:50 joint venture without any rights for Iran. Iran has strongly objected to the agreement, with officials saying the move is “illegal” as the boundaries of the field shared between the three countries have not yet been established.