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EghtesadOnline: The National Iranian Oil Company still owes Austrian oil and gas group OMV $48 million, OMV's exploration and production chief Johann Pleininger told a meeting of shareholders on Wednesday.

"We are in intensive negotiations to complete the relevant contracts to settle the claims," Pleininger said, Reuters reported.

Chief Executive Rainer Seele had previously declined to name the outstanding amount but has said the issue stood in the way of making quick progress with OMV's business in Iran. The NIOC said this month it was is in the final phase of talks with OMV to sign a contract to sell 40,000 barrels of oil per day to OMV in a deal that would help Tehran pay its outstanding debt to the oil and gas company.

OMV started operations in Iran in 2001 as the operator of the Mehr exploration block in the west of the country, but halted operations in 2006 due to sanctions, Financial Tribune reported.

The Vienna-based company actively resumed negotiations for a place in Iran after sanctions were removed in January 2016 following a historic agreement in 2015 on scaling back Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

In May 2016, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Company to study Cheshmeh Khosh and Band-e-Karkheh fields in the southern Khuzestan Province. It is also studying oil-rich regions in the Zagros area in western Iran.

OMV is one of the 29 companies approved by the NIOC to bid in its forthcoming oil and gas tenders.

NIOC OMV Iran-Austria trade Johann Pleininger