|UK ministers hope for North Sea gas supply boost with Iranian sanctions waiver||
British ministers are hoping to boost dwindling UK gas supplies by lifting sanctions on a North Sea field jointly owned by BP and an Iranian-controlled company.
BP has stopped production at a North Sea platform co-owned with Iran, as it works out whether it is breaching any European sanctions.
The Rhum field, which could produce 190m cubic feet of gas per day, or about 5pc of the UK’s daily gas output, has been shut down since 2010 as a result of the sanctions.
BP warned earlier this year that the prolonged shutdown also threatened to bring about the premature closure of another field, Bruce, which uses the same infrastructure. Bruce produces about 3pc of UK North Sea gas output.
Ministers are now said to be close to securing a waiver to the sanctions that would allow Rhum to resume production and secure Bruce’s future.
Britain has become increasingly reliant on gas imports as North Sea production declines, fuelling fears of price spikes.
The waiver talks come after signs of a thawing in relations with Iran under its new president. The EU said last week that “the BP gas field could be exempted from sanctions under an EU Council Regulation adopted in December 2012 amending previous regulation on restrictive measures against Iran”.
Reports suggested talks were focused on whether other companies such as banks carrying out transactions linked to the field would also be exempted under the waiver.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it was “working with the EU to ensure the long-term security of the Rhum North Sea gas field and will be making an announcement on this in due course”.
BP said: “Our priorities are to ensure the field remains safe and that we remain compliant with the law.”
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