0200 GMT July 20, 2019
Executives of the company visited Tehran last month -- not with a business group travelling with British Foreign Secretary Philipp Hammond but separately -- and met with Iranian oil industry officials, a BP spokesman confirmed.
“The details of those discussions are confidential. We have said for some time that we would be interested in reviewing opportunities in Iran once sanctions permit it,” the unnamed official, quoted by The Times, said.
BP sent technical and commercial managers on a fact-finding mission to the country last month, British media reports said.
Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley has said the company would be “very much” interested in investing in Iran when sanctions are lifted.
BP traded crude and products with Iran before ceasing it in 2011 under intensified Western sanctions.
It owes Iran a debt from the sale of gas produced at North Sea’s Rhum field in which the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has a 50% stake. Iran’s revenues from the field are frozen in an account in London under the sanctions regime.
Another British company, Royal Dutch Shell, has an outstanding debt of $2.3 billion to Iran for the crude oil it has bought from the NIOC.
On Friday, head of Iran's filling stations union Bijan Haj Mohammadreza said Shell and France’s Total had received green light to set up 200 gas stations in the country, marking foreign foray into the Iranian energy retail market for the first time.
BP started life as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1908 when the Middle East’s first oil was struck in Iran’s Masjed Soleyman.
The company went on to grow and become sturdy as it basked in the luxury of exceptional privileges which were profusely accorded to the colonial UK and its entities.
Three decades later, when it had expanded beyond the Middle East to Alaska, BP parted ways with Iran and became British Petroleum.