Tough new EU regulations require BP to close down gas field jointly owned with Iran

In what could be a sign of the tough new European sanctions starting to affect Iran's oil and gas sector, BP Plc is likely to close down a natural gas field in the North Sea it owns jointly with Iran, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the report, the new measures approved by the EU on Monday, would lead to a ban on joint energy investments by Iranian and Western companies.

The sanctions are meant to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear programme, the report says.

The report quotes Catherine Ashton, a spokesman for the EU as saying that the new sanctions would affect Rhum, a gas field jointly owned by BP and a state-owned Iranian oil company, "and could lead to its closure."

The shut down of Rhum would not significantly affect BP, the UK or Iran as it is only a small field producing around 15,000 barrels of oil a day accounting for just 5 per cent of BP's UK North Sea oil and gas production, the report quotes the company as saying.
According to EU officials it is the only West-Iranian joint venture of its kind in Europe, the report says.

The report said that since June, the UN, the EU and the US have been stepping up measures to deter Tehran's nuclear programme. Though Iran says its nuclear ambitions were peaceful, the US and others harbour concerns over whether they are directed toward weapons production.