Iran to hold tender for oil, natural gas fields in mid-February

Reuters– Iran will launch new contracts to develop oil and natural gas fields in mid-February in the country’s first such tender since the lifting of international sanctions a year ago, an oil official said on Saturday.

“The plan was to hold the first tender at the end of January, but it will be held with 15 days of delay on February 15,” Ali Kardor, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

“Twenty-nine companies have been qualified, but we would like to add more companies to the list,” he added.

OPEC’s No. 3 oil producer hopes its new Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPCs), which are part of efforts to sweeten the terms offered on oil development deals, will draw foreign companies and boost output after years of under-investment.

Some industry analysts say the IPCs do not appear attractive enough to raise billions of dollars in foreign direct investment at a time of low global oil prices, especially when compared with new contracts being offered by Iraq, which have enabled the neighboring country to boost its output.

The first new-style tender has been postponed several times for unspecified reasons.

Foreign firms keen to tap Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves have so far made little inroads into the country despite the lifting of sanctions.

Shell signed a provisional deal in December to develop Iranian oil and gas fields South Azadegan, Yadavaran and Kish in December. Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said however that Shell has no near-term investment opportunities in Iran.[nL5N1E22EM]

The new U.S. administration on Friday imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, which it said were just “initial steps” and said Washington would no longer turn a “blind eye” to Iran’s hostile actions.[nL1N1FO0Z9]

Iranian oil officials have said they are not worried that President Donald Trump’s tough stance against Tehran will affect foreign investment in the energy sector.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Helen Popper)