Austrian oil company OMV AG has resisted Iranian pressure to push ahead with investment in a gas project and is prepared to be dropped as a partner, rather than invest now, an executive said on Wednesday.

On and off they say 'You should start here by such and such date' and then we say 'wait and see until the oil price recovers', Helmut Langanger, exploration and production boss told Reuters in an interview.

If they wanted they could replace us ... They are proceeding with the project on their own without us and they don't get hampered by us.

In April 2007, OMV signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Iranian Oil Companythat envisaged OMV participating in Phase 12 of the giant South Pars offshore gas field and in a plant that would liquefy the field's gas for export in special ships.

However, western investment in Iran's oil and gas industry has stalled following pressure from the U.S. and European governments who fear Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed towards electricity generation only. (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)