Iran hopes to woo Western oil majors

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iranian oil minister05 December 2013, News Wires – Opec member Iran hopes to do business with major Western oil companies in the future as it looks to increase production after years of crippling sanctions, according to reports.

Speaking ahead of an Opec meeting in Vienna this week, Iran’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told reporters that the Islamic Republic plans to meet with a number of international oil companies in London as soon as March next year.

He is hoping companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Statoil and Eni will invest in Iran once international sanctions are eventually lifted. Western powers agreed to ease some sanctions in an accord last month after Iran agreed to scale down its development of a nuclear programme for six months.

“We want to return to the market,” Bloomberg reported the oil minister as saying. “It’s our main priority.”

Zanganeh declined to name which companies Iran would be meeting with to discuss future projects. Few of the companies he mentioned had any specific comment, other than to say they are in compliance with current US and EU laws that forbid doing business with Iran, according to reports.

Bloomberg quoted a BP spokesman as saying Iran “clearly has huge resources”, but stressed that due to a “very complicated political process, we need to take our time and watch the situation carefully”.

BP is one of several companies, including Shell and Total, that have previously held partnerships in Iranian energy projects.

The accord reached last month unfreezes billions of dollars in oil revenues for Iran but keeps in place a ban on oil exports. Zanganeh said he hopes that deal is a precursor to an agreement that would ease all restriction on Iranian oil sales.

Zanganeh says Iran will produce 4 million barrels per day of crude once sanctions are lifted.

“Under no circumstances will I renege from Iran’s right to produce 4 million barrels a day, and I am sure Opec will exercise wisdom in this matter,” he said.

Iran produced 2.65 million bpd in November. It has not produced 4 million bpd since August 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The country currently exports about 1 million bpd.

Iran has oil reserves of 157 billion barrels, good for fourth largest in the world. It also holds the biggest gas reserves at around 1,187 trillion cubic feet.
*Luke Johnson

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