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.
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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video In Cambodian Capital, Political Motives Seen Behind Canceled Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.