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Iran ready to talk to companies on crude deals
Bloomberg
File - A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas in this September 15, 2008. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
File - A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas in this September 15, 2008. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
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DUBAI: Iran has begun meeting international oil company heads and plans to speak with more as soon as March to seek investment in its energy industry once world powers lift sanctions, the state’s oil minister said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its group production target as Saudi Arabia raised January light crude prices for buyers in Asia and Abu Dhabi and Bahrain bought gasoline.

Iran, until last year OPEC’s second-largest producer, is talking with European companies about future projects, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told reporters in Vienna Dec. 4. The minister said he hoped ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Eni and Statoil would invest. Iranian officials will meet with international companies in London in March, he said, declining to identify them.

Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni had a “fairly long and warm meeting” with Zanganeh to discuss possible future energy projects and money owed to Eni, Scaroni said in Vienna last week. Speaking to reporters outside Zanganeh’s hotel room after the meeting, Scaroni said any oil and gas projects would wait until sanctions ended.

Their discussion included possible modifications to so-called buyback contracts as well as monies owed relating to the Darquain and South Pars fields, where the Rome-based company previously operated, he said.

Zanganeh, who received Gerhard Roiss, the chief executive officer of Vienna-based OMV AG, at the hotel, said he also met with Ian Taylor, the CEO of Vitol Group, and officials from Royal Dutch Shell.

An Iranian delegation led by the central bank deputy governor will meet with Indian Finance Ministry officials on Dec. 9 or 10 to discuss oil payment issues, two Indian government officials said last week. The officials said India was ready to make payments in dollars if Iran named a bank for the transfers.

Iran, now OPEC’s sixth producer, could see some of its 37 million barrels of crude in floating storage make its way into the global market due to an agreement with international powers over its nuclear program, International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in New Delhi Dec. 4.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned that the international sanctions regime against Iran was still in place until the interim deal signed in Geneva was implemented. U.S. authorities will step up enforcement of sanctions in the intervening month until the agreement is expected to be put into place, he said Dec. 5.

OPEC maintained a production ceiling of 30 million bpd for the group at a meeting in Vienna last week. Iranian and Venezuelan oil ministers said after the meeting they see oil staying above $100.

Saudi Arabian Oil, the world’s largest crude exporter, raised premiums used to set official selling prices for light crudes to customers in Asia for January and increased differentials on all grades for U.S. buyers.

The state-owned producer, known as Saudi Aramco, raised the monthly differential for Arab Light to Asia to a two-year high, boosting the premium by 30 cents a barrel, to $3.75 more than the average of Oman and Dubai grades, it said in a statement Dec. 3.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 10, 2013, on page 5.
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