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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8957
JPY
USD
120.93
GBP
USD
0.6393
CAD
USD
1.2199
INR
USD
63.470

Rates may not be current.