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Exploration and development of Iran's oilfields through buyback

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The use of buyback for the development of oil and gas fields is an established mechanism in Iran. Current legislation authorizes the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to use buyback for both exploration and development. The buyback scheme can be defined as a risk service contract, under which the contractor is paid back by being allocated a portion of oil/gas produced as a result of providing services. Buyback is based upon a defined scope of work, a capital cost ceiling, a fixed remuneration fee and a defined cost recovery period. When buyback is used for both exploration and development, the specifications of the field to be developed are unknown at the time of contracting and therefore agreement on the scope of work, duration of development operations, ceiling for capital costs, fixed remuneration fee, and duration of cost recovery need to be deferred to the time when a commercial field is discovered. This article first outlines the introduction of buyback for development of Iran's oil and gas fields. It then examines the main features of the mechanism. Third, the use of buyback for both exploration and development is explored and related challenges discussed. Finally, the article reviews the new buyback model proposed by NIOC to address these challenges.

Keywords: Buyback; Development; Exploration; International oil company; NIOC; Oil contracts

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Tehran University 2: Legal and Contractual Department of PEDEC/NIOC, Tehran

Publication date: August 1, 2006


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