News / Economy

Iran Names 7 Western Oil Companies It Wants to Return

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh wave to journalists as he arrives for a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 4, 2013.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh wave to journalists as he arrives for a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 4, 2013.
Reuters
Iran on Wednesday named seven Western oil companies it wants back in its vast oil and gas fields once international sanctions are lifted and said it would offer contract terms in April next year.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh named the seven in order: Total of France, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy's ENI, Norway's Statoil, Britain's BP and U.S. companies ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips .

Iran has the world's fourth-largest proved national reserves of oil - most of it cheap to produce - and is also home to the biggest proved reserves of natural gas, some 18 percent of the global total.

But with nationalization in the Islamic revolution of 1979, the oil companies were thrown out. Iran's share of world oil production fell to below 40 percent by 1997 from 55 percent in the 1970s. Its gas output remained negligible.

Oil companies from around the world drifted back in the 1990s, and Zanganeh oversaw their return as minister under the reformist government of 1997-2005.

Total returned to onshore fields in 1997 and Shell in 1999, both while Zanganeh was minister and both in defiance of the U.S. sanctions of the time, even though President Bill Clinton had blocked a Conoco project in 1995.

But Iran's production stagnated through the 2000s amid growing international tensions over its nuclear program. The more effective sanctions instituted in 2012 have choked out foreign investment and sent output down to 2.65 million barrels a day in November from an average of 4.3 million in 2011.

Iran last month reached an interim deal with six western powers to limit its nuclear program, under which sanctions on oil investment and trade with Iran may be lifted next year.

European talks first

Speaking to reporters at an OPEC meeting, Zanganeh said he was already talking with some companies, although so far not those from the United States.

“We had no limitations for U.S. companies. Twenty years ago there were limitations against them from their own administration," he said. "For doing projects in Iran, we have no limitations.”

Zanganeh is due to meet senior executives from Western oil companies including Eni and Shell on Thursday, an Iranian oil official said.

Zanganeh made no mention of Russian, Chinese or Japanese companies or those of other nationalities. Asked whether he would like to see Asian, Indian, Chinese companies coming to Iran as well, he said: “Yes, but now we are discussing with European [firms].”

He said contract terms would be better than those in post-war Iraq, which limited oil companies to operating fees rather than the share of production deals they prefer.

“I cannot say more about the detail,” Zanganeh said.

Mehdi Hosseini, an Iranian official in charge of revising national investment terms, told Reuters he hoped to be able to introduce the new contract model at a London conference in the second week of April.

“The Iranians aren't under any illusions that they can draw anyone in before the sanctions are lifted,” said a Western oil executive from a company previously involved in Iran. “And most international oil companies will be careful not to go one step too far before a final agreement is reached between Iran and the West.”

A Western oil source from another company that had invested in Iran said, “A removal of sanctions that would allow for tangible progress for international oil companies is still at the minimum 18-24 months away.”

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.