UK government hopes to close deal for a sanctions waiver to restart production from North Sea’s Rhum field

The UK could be close to agreeing on a deal to ease sanctions that have stopped gas production from the Rhum field in the North Sea, which is jointly owned by supermajor BP and the National Iranian Oil Company, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.

Until production was suspended in 2010 in compliance with international sanctions against Iran, the field had supplied 5% of Britain’s gas output.

Reuters cited the newspaper as saying that the UK government is hoping to win agreement from the European Union and the US for a sanctions waiver in the near future, following signs of a softening of relations between Iran and the West.

However, one challenge to the deal could be concerns from companies involved in financing and servicing the field that any exemption for the producers would not fully protect them from legal action, the news wire said.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “We are working to ensure the long-term security of the Rhum gas field but no decision has been made at this time on a solution.”

A spokesman for BP declined to comment on the possibility of a waiver being granted.

“As operator of the field our priorities are two-fold – to ensure the field remains safe and that we remain compliant with the law,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“It is up to the government to decide on the longer-term options.”