NIOC said Edison, which signed the deal in 2006, had failed to meet its contractual commitments, with slow progress of the project to study two-dimensional seismographic information on 7500 square kilometers of the oilfield and to drill an exploration well.
A number of major contracts with foreign companies have been suspended in the last two years amid technical issues and sanctions.
1642 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Egyptian Front). More evidence --- following the declaration of the Supreme Leader's advisor Ali Akbar Velayati of a Cold War over Syria between a "Western front" and "Eastern front" and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani's criticism of US intervention (see 1010 GMT) --- of Tehran trying to line up with or even bump Russia into a position challenging Washington and its European and Arab allies:
The Iranian ambassador to Moscow and the Russian deputy foreign minister have underlined the need for the implementation of the peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to Syria for the settlement of the crisis in the country.
Reza Sajjadi and Mikhail Bogdanov met to discuss the situation in Syria.
During their meeting, they also called for the resolution of the Syrian crisis through solutions proposed in last week’s Geneva meeting, which aim to end the conflict, start national dialog and pave the way for a political resolution of the crisis.
They also stressed the necessity for the settlement of the Syrian crisis through political negotiations between Syrian sides and without any foreign interference.
Both sides also called on foreign players to avoid adopting unilateral measures against Syria and emphasized the need for respecting Damascus sovereignty as well as the Syrian people’s viewpoints in determining their fate.
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for his first official visit abroad since he was sworn in on June 30, signaling that he wants to maintain the long-standing regional alliance.
Mursi will meet King Abdullah and then make a short pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest site, the kingdom's ambassador in Cairo, Mohammed al-Qattan, said on Saturday.
Qattan said he "presented President Mursi with an invitation to visit King Abdullah and the Egyptian president has accepted the invitation and will travel on Wednesday.
"President Mursi was careful to make Saudi Arabia his first visit abroad. Both leaders will meet to get to know one another and discuss ways to increase trade and investment cooperation."
The Islamic Republic's attempts to court Morsi since his election last month have been beset by embarrassment. A claim by Fars, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, was ridiculed as "fake" by other Iranian outlets, and the website also carried the false report that the Egyptian President had accepted an invitation to the Non-Aligned movement summit in Tehran on 29 August was denied by Morsi's office.
1319 GMT: Economy Watch. The Student Basij forces have written an open letter to President Ahmadinejad, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, and head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani protesting that "people are struggling with economic problems".
The Basij asked Ahmadinejad, "In your provincial tours, do you not see inflation and its impact on people's lives?" It appealed to Sadegh Larijani, "Why can the judicial system not track the honesty and transparency that we expect from our government?"
1308 GMT: Oil Watch. Hassan Khosrojerdi, the head of Iran's oil exporters union, has claimed Tehran has reached agreements with European refiners to sell some of its oil through a private consortium, circumventing European Union sanctions."There have been discussions with European refiners, and a final agreement has even been reached," Khosrojerdi said. "In accordance with the agreement, it is planned that 20 percent of Iran's oil exports will go through this private consortium."
The official added, "It is likely that because of international restrictions, we will give minor privileges or discounts to some of the buyers of our oil."
Khosrojerdi did not say which refiners were involved or how they would receive the oil. Asked what steps had been taken to circumvent the EU ban on insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil, he said only, "With the agreement with some of the European refiners, this problem has been solved completely."
1228 GMT: Sanctions Watch. President Ahmadinejad and his Ministers have attended today's meeting of the Expediency Council considering sanctions, other, economic pressure, propaganda, and "psychological war against Iran".
1214 GMT: Economy Watch. After weeks of sharp price rises, Mashregh News reports a levelling or even fall in the cost of some food products. For example, the price of chicken dropped 10% and some fruits and vegetables were cheaper, while the cost of rice, eggs, and beef was unchanged.
Milk, which rose sharply in price through the spring, is 6% more expensive, and the cost of sugar also increased.
1017 GMT: Straits Watch. The head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, has set out a cautious line over action in response to Western sanctions, "We have plans to close the Strait of Hormuz because military commanders must have plans for any situation. But Iran, acting rationally, will not close the corridor through which 40 per cent of the world's energy passes, unless its interests are in serious trouble."
Firouzabadi explained, "What my colleagues say regarding (the closing of the Strait) echo missions assigned to them...[but] the order to carry out the mission will only come from a decision by the Supreme National Security Council and approved by Supreme Leader."
1010 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). It looks like the regime is making a big push on the Syrian issue....
Speaking on State TV on Thursday night, Ali Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader's senior advisor on foreign policy, said that a Cold War has started between the "Eastern front", spearheaded by Russia and China, and the "Western front", led by the United States, with Syria as the starting point.
“What happened in Syria was unprecedented in the region,” Velayati said, “We are witnessing that Syria, which is not a large country but holds an extremely critical and geopolitical position, is facing the West’s massive conspiracies.”
Velayati, a former Foreign Minister, claimed Western countries, especially the US, and Israel were trying to manipulate events in Syria to make up for their losses in Egypt after the fall of the Mubarak regime. He said that the challenge was also because Damascus is “the golden ring of the resistance chain” against the "Zionist regime".
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, speaking in Qom on Friday, bolstered Velayati's line as he described US intervention in Syrian affairs as a clear instance of President Obama’s Islamophobic policies.
Comparing that Obama was supported armed gangs in Syria in the name of democracy while backing the regime in Bahrain, Larijani insisted that “such dual standards cannot be justified by any reason".
0700 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Following Barbara Slavin's revelations of Iran's negotiating position in the nuclear talks and further details yesterday from Julian Borger, Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor offers a valuable summary, with contrasting portrayals by Iranian and Western diplomats:
"We said the issue of 20-percent [uranium] could be a matter of discussion, when the [final] result was known, if they said what they are going to give us in return – a full lifting of sanctions," says the Iranian official. "We said all of them, though it could be done part by part."
On the other side, the P5+1 say they need to see Iran take confidence-building measures first, before real bargaining can begin.
"So far, we have not seen a willingness by the Iranians to do anything else than talk, write letters, and gesture," says a Western diplomat close to the talks. "There is a real sense among the P5+1 that we're going to have to see some action...from the Iranians."
"It's not that we are inflexible, but there is a sense that before we get into the flexibility, they have to do more than just talk," says the Western diplomat.
0630 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. Maya Neyestani dedicates a cartoon to journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, serving a prison sentence of 7 years and 4 months:
0555 GMT: Amid the regime statements on Friday, the address of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, introducing Tehran Friday Prayers, may have been the most interesting. International media were entranced with his claim that "foreign intelligence agencies" --- US, Britain, Israel, France, Germany --- were "in shock" over the round-up of their "terrorist networks"; however, they missed the more significant declaration:
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi says the repetition of the unrest that followed the 2009 presidential elections will not be allowed in the country....
Moslehi noted that some leaders of that “sedition” are thinking about restarting political activities and posing new challenges to the Islamic Revolution....
“The Intelligence Ministry is completely monitoring all such currents and will handle them so that people will not face any challenges or even feel [they are being] challenged,” he added.
Supporting anti-revolutionary elements, saboteurs and those who try to create rift between the Islamc establishment and people are the main goals of the enemies, he cautioned.
“The players in the soft war [game] are trying to destroy the ties between the people and the [Islamic] establishment by destroying their beliefs,” Moslehi stated.
Why --- especially if the Green Movement has been defeated --- would Moslehi issue this pointed warning? The answer may lay in the more conciliatory statements the regime has been making about a settlement in nuclear talks --- a settlement with the same "Western" powers who supposedly were behind the terrorists trying to undermine the Islamic Republic.
One of the worries, perhaps the chief worry, for Iran's leaders is that they will look weak if they sign a deal over uranium enrichment --- weak not in the eyes of Washington or London, but in those of their own people. So authority will have to be maintained, and the Minister of Intelligence was setting out a marker for this on Friday.
We have much more in an audio analysis, recorded by Scott Lucas with Monocle 24, posted in a separate feature.