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Belarus urges Iran to move ahead with joint oil field project


MINSK, May 12 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus hopes that a joint Belarusian-Iranian project to develop an oil field in southern Iran will begin work in the near future, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Tuesday.

Semashko's statement followed a meeting with Reza Raei, vice-governor of the Central Bank of Iran, in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

Iran and Belarus signed a contract allowing Belarus' state-owned oil company Belarusneft to produce oil at the Jofeir deposit in Iran in the first half of 2007.

Semashko said the development of the Jofeir oil field was a strategic issue for Belarus. In turn, Raei said that the issue of the financing of the project had been 100% resolved.

"The Central Bank of Iran will act as the source of financing," Raei said.

On January 1, 2007, Russia doubled the price of its gas supplies to Belarus and removed preferential oil tariffs, which sparked an energy dispute between the two countries.

The dispute prompted energy-scarce Belarus, which imports both gas and oil from Russia, to look for alternative oil imports.

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