Seeking a recovery from a halving of its oil exports and a sharp drop in investment in its oil and gas fields, Iran has opened talks with Western companies.
Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s Eni, Austria’s OMV, and Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, all met with Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh last week in Vienna, on the sidelines of a conference of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Zanganeh, who oversaw an influx of Western investment as Oil Minister between 1997 and 2005, has said since he resumed office in August that he wanted to renew discussions.
“With OMV, we discussed about many things and [with] Shell only about the general willingness for cooperation in future,” Zanganeh said. “A various range of cooperation” was discussed with Vitol.
Industry sources said Vitol is discussing possible purchases of condensates once US-led sanctions are lifted on Iran.
OMV and Shell declined to comment but Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said, “We plan to continue to be in Iran and possibly increase our activity as long as the sanction regime is lifted.”
Scaroni cautioned that Iran would have to amend its investment terms of “buybacks”, in which companies are paid in oil only after completing a project.
The Oil Minister told Fars News Agency on Sunday that a resumption of investment could occur in South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, where development has been hampered by the exit of Western companies in 2010.
“Surely, if Phases 15 and 16 [of South Pars] start production we will see an increase in the country’s (gas) sweetening capacity,” Zanganeh said.
By EA WorldView
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