UPDATE 1-Russia, Iran to sign energy "road map"

* Energy officials to meet for talks in Moscow

* Most joint projects already on hold

* Oil services contracts may be limit of accord

By Melissa Akin

MOSCOW, July 13 (BestGrowthStock) – Russia said on Tuesday it
planned to sign a road map to outline future energy cooperation
with Iran.

Russian oil and gas majors Gazprom (GAZP.MM: ), Gazprom Neft
(SIBN.MM: ) and LUKOIL (LKOH.MM: ), have signed billions of dollars
worth of deals to help Iran develop its oil and gas fields but
most projects are on holding because of sanctions.

The document will be signed on Wednesday when Iranian Oil
Minister Massoud Mirkazemi meets his Russian counterpart Sergei
Shmatko in Moscow, the oil ministry said without providing
details.

At best, analysts said, it will reflect Russia’s efforts to
walk a safe path between international sanctions and Moscow’s
wish to maintain ties with a fellow oil and gas power.

“The ministers will discuss the current situation in
Russia-Iranian energy cooperation and will outline prospects for
future cooperation,” the statement said.

“The ministries will study issues linked to the creation of
favourable conditions to intensify and make cooperation in the
energy sphere between Iran and Russia more concrete,” it added.

Russia voted for sanctions in the United Nations Security
Council on June 9 that target the Islamic Republic banking and
shipping sectors because of Iran’s failure to allay fears over
its disputed nuclear programme.

“Russian companies are taking a cautious approach to this
country at this moment they don’t want to engage in politically
risky and financially risky projects,” Troika Dialog analyst
Valery Nesterov said.

“The maximum terms they can offer are oil services contracts
which are not especially rewarding as they don’t secure
additional oil supplies for the companies.”

But Russian state controlled companies are unlikely to shut
down investment or withdraw completely from Iran, holder of vast
untapped oil and gas resources.

Russia’s No. 2 oil producer, LUKOIL — 20 percent owned by
U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips (COP.N: ) — has decreed a halt to
its gasoline exports to fuel-hungry Iran.

But state controlled Gazprom has said it is bidding to
develop the Azar oilfield and has expressed interest in Iran’s
giant South Pars field.

The Kremlin’s influence in Tehran is a key lever of
influence in its relationship with the United States and the
European Union, which fear Tehran is seeking to create a nuclear
bomb. Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons.

“There is an understanding that Russia needs to engage with
Iran at some level,” Weafer said. “The last thing the U.S. would
actually want is for Tehran to end up only speaking to Beijing
because that would limit U.S. back door access to Tehran.”
(Reporting by Melissa Akin and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by
William Hardy)

UPDATE 1-Russia, Iran to sign energy “road map”