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Cablegate: Iran Urges Omv to Conclude Gas Deals

VZCZCXRO3051
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHDIR RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHVI #1351 2591410
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151410Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0952
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS VIENNA 001351

SIPDIS, SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ENRG ETRD EINV PREL IR AU
SUBJECT: IRAN URGES OMV TO CONCLUDE GAS DEALS

1. (U) On the margins of a recent OPEC meeting, Iranian Oil Minister
Gholamhossein Nozari publicly urged Austrian oil/gas company OMV to
finalize an energy deal. In an exclusive interview September 12 with
Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung (note: an Austrian government-owned
newspaper), Nozari urged OMV to "hurry up" and finalize gas
contracts with Iran, referring specifically to the Nabucco gas
pipeline project (for which Iran could be a potential supplier).
"Time is pressing, and we will not wait forever." Europe needs Iran,
and the Austrians "should use their excellent relations to us to
show an example." He opined that Iran has plenty of options in
spite of "three resolutions and countless warnings" -- citing new
deals with India, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Switzerland.

2. (U) On Nabucco: "Everyone recognizes that the Nabucco can't
function without Iran. A country with 16% of the world's gas
reserves can't simply be ignored." Nozari said, adding that his
impression from ongoing talks is that "the Austrians are very
interested in concluding the deal."

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3. (SBU) OMV did not comment on the interview. In addition to
Nabucco, Nozari's comments could also refer to an April 2007
preliminary gas contract ("Heads of Agreement") by OMV with its
Iranian counterpart NIOC concerning the construction of an LNG plant
and related gas deliveries. OMV representatives at all levels say
that the company sees Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as suppliers of
choice in Nabucco's first phase, and that other gas deliveries could
come from Iraq and/or the Arab Gas Pipeline. OMV does not rule out
Iran as a supplier, especially if the political situation improves.
The negotiations on the LNG projects are ongoing but with apparently
little recent progress. Along with Royal Dutch Shell, OMV is a
co-sponsor of Iran's 2nd Gas Export Conference October 4-5 in
Tehran. As OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer emphasized recently to
Embassy rep, "OMV maintains business relations with Iran. They are
legitimate since we do not violate any UN or EU sanctions."

GIRARD-DICARLO#

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