Iran ups energy diplomacy


TEHRAN, March 15 (Shana) – Undoubtedly, Iran’s petroleum industry is the most attractive sector for foreign investment after the January implementation of the country’s historic nuclear deal with six world powers. After the deal took effect and subsequently sanctions on Iran were lifted, delegations of foreign officials and investors have been rushing to Iran.

Over the past month, Iran’s oil diplomacy has  been more active than ever and Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh hosted important meetings, the most important of which was the four-nation meeting with his counterparts from Venezuela, Iraq and Qatar on February 17 with the objective of bringing stability back to the market and improving crude oil price.

After the meeting, Zangeneh said Iran supports any measure that would help stabilize the market and boost crude prices. The Tehran meeting followed an oil ministerial meeting between Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela in Doha.

Zangeneh welcomed cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, saying that the “decision by OPEC and non-OPEC members for freezing their production ceiling with the objective of market stability and improvement in prices in the interest of consumers and producers has won Iran’s support, too.”

“Although it is a primary step and more steps must follow, this beginning of cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries for improving the market conditions is a source of happiness and we support any measure for the stability of market and improvement of prices,” said the Iranian minister.

Asked about the effect of the recent meeting with OPEC and non-OPEC ministers on oil prices, he said: “We have to wait and see its impact on the prices.”

Touching on the readiness of certain non-OPEC countries for cooperation, Zangeneh said: “Russia, as the largest producer of oil in the world, Oman and other countries have announced their solidarity, which is a positive step.”

New Chapter in Iran-Siemens Cooperation

Zangeneh hosted Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser on February 22. After the meeting, Zangeneh said Siemens is one of the major suppliers of rotary machinery and electricity generation equipment in the world. “With Siemens’ cooperation, Iran can turn into the hub of manufacturing and export of equipment,” he said.

The minister said Iran needed Siemens’s gas compressors and machinery to revive its ramped-up production bid which fizzled out after Western companies downed the tools under the sanctions regime.

Siemens blocked the delivery of gas turbines and compressors which Iran had bought to be used in its oil and gas projects.

“The equipment was for South Pars phases, LNG (projects) and some of the Iranian refineries, the release of which has started after the annulment of sanctions,” Zangeneh said.

He said more than 30 compressors had been seized, adding that Siemens has agreed to help Iran for the delivery of compressors and turbines and their launch in Iran.

Zangeneh said Siemens can jointly produce equipment with Iranian companies for exports to regional countries, including Iraq, Central Asia and elsewhere.

The minister told Siemens it could start joint ventures with any Iranian company and export equipment to regional markets using the Siemens brand. Siemens was already planning to work with Oil Turbo Compressor Company. “We hope a new chapter will open in cooperation between Iran and Siemens during the post-sanction (era),” he said.

“Iran needs to withdraw more gas, requiring it to purchase rotary machinery and wellhead compressors, and Siemens can be a good partner for Iran in this field,” Zangeneh said.

“We want to pick up where we left off,” Siemens said in a statement, citing its engagement in Iran since 1868, especially in the energy sector and rail transportation. “We see great pent-up demand.”

Siemens stopped doing new business in Iran in 2010 but last month signed deals to work on Iran’s railway infrastructure worth up to 1.5 billion Euros ($1.7 billion) in anticipation of Western sanctions against Iran being lifted.

“We never left the country and stand by our commitment also in difficult times, always in compliance with international regulations. We’ll now be stepping up our efforts toward continuing this long tradition,” Siemens said.

Iran, Oman Discuss Gas Pipeline

On February 21, Zangeneh met with Oman’s foreign minister, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, in Tehran.

After the meeting whose main theme was the construction of Iran-Oman gas pipeline, Zangeneh said: “In this meeting, we discussed the issue of joint investment in refining, oil storage, [petroleum] products and the development of petrochemical industries in both countries.”

He said that the relations between Iran and Oman would improve following the recent lifting of sanctions.

For his part, Bin Alawi said studies on a planned pipeline to carry gas from Iran to Oman would have been completed in six months. “Muscat agrees with all details of the construction of Iran-Oman gas pipeline,” he said.

Noting that his meeting with Zangeneh aimed at examining projects and expanding relations in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors between the two countries, the Omani minister said his country favors enhanced ties with the Islamic Republic given Iran’s oil and gas potential.

He said: “The objective is to deliver Iran’s gas to world markets through Oman.”

Bin Alawi said prospects of economic, trade and oil cooperation were also discussed in his meeting with Zangeneh.

“All Oman coasts are ready for enhanced maritime cooperation with Iran,” he added.

Petchem Exports to Georgia

Iran’s petroleum minister met with Georgian Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze in Tehran on February 16. Iran and Georgia negotiated over exporting gas from Iran to the Caucasian state, as well as joint investment in the petrochemical sector, said Zangeneh.

Speaking to Shana after meeting Kaladze added, “Iran will supply the feedstock and will also cooperate with the Georgian companies in the investment.”

He said Georgia has the advantage to export Iranian goods to Europe and said it will communicate to the Iranian private sector for investment ventures.

“Studies have to be carried out in this area which we hope can be completed and lead to investment,” the minister said.

It was decided that Tehran and Tbilisi will introduce their qualified companies to cooperate, said Zangeneh.

Kaladze also expressed hope that Iran-Georgia relations would improve after the lifting of sanctions. “Negotiations about the volume and price of gas will continue and meetings are expected to be held in this regard,” he said.

Noting that there are two options for Iran’s gas exports to Georgia; namely Azerbaijan and Armenia, Kaladze said more details of Iran’s gas exports to Georgia will be discussed in future meetings.

Oil Export to Ghana

On February 14, Iran’s petroleum minister met with Ghanaian Minister of Petroleum Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah.

After the meeting, Zangeneh said Tehran is keen on enhancing ties with Ghana and is ready to export crude oil, as well as petroleum products to the African country. He said the two sides have prepared an MoU which they will sign within the following 24 hours.

The meeting was in line with the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and enhancement of ties with the African country, he added.

“Ghana produces a little amount of crude oil, has not tapped much of its reserves and is yet to exploit its resources,” said the Iranian official.

He said Accra needs little imports of crude oil, adding the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum during the meeting announced its readiness to ship consignments of crude oil and petroleum products to Ghana.

The Iranian minister of petroleum further said an Iranian delegation will travel to Ghana to help the country in downstream, refining and distribution network sectors.

“They [Ghana] have also called for training their personnel by Iran and the two countries will cooperate in this field as well,” Zangeneh said. “We are keen on enhancing our ties with Ghana,” he added.

For his part, Armah-Kofi Buah said Ghana needs Iran’s oil and gas support to become the hub of power generation in the African continent.

He said he discussed cooperation in the upstream and downstream sectors, noting that Ghana could benefit from Iran’s oil and gas potential.

Iran, Venezuela Hold Close Views

Before the four-nation meeting in Tehran, Zangeneh met with Venezuela’s oil minister Eulogio del Pino.

After this meeting, Zangeneh stressed that Tehran and Caracas have always held very close views on oil, adding that Iran supports Venezuela’s efforts for improvement in the oil market and the market stability.

“In this meeting, in addition to exchanging views on issues related to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, crude oil markets and cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries, we had good negotiations on Tehran-Caracas bilateral relations after the removal of sanctions,” he said.

Oil Exports to Japan

On February 15, Zangeneh hosted Katsuyuki Kawai, a special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He said crude oil exports make up a significant part of Iran-Japan relations, adding: “We expect Japan and Japanese state firms to bring their petroleum imports from Iran to the level it was before the sanctions were imposed on Tehran.”

He said international sanctions did not let Iran and Japan broaden their energy cooperation in the past, adding that the two sides can cooperate in oil refining, LNG, petrochemicals, joint investment and financing of projects.

“I believe that Japanese companies are presented with big opportunities,” said Zangeneh.

He said that Shinzo Abe plans to visit Iran this year, adding that Kawai-led delegation’s visit was a preparatory step for the Japanese prime minister’s future visit.