News ID: 188711
Published: 0614 GMT March 04, 2017

Defying Trump, Iran draws up $80b of oil deals

Defying Trump, Iran draws up $80b of oil deals

Iran is negotiating $80 billion of oil deals for signing, some of which are expected to be finalized no later than the next three months, said two senior officials said in Tehran on Saturday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi shrugged off concerns about the new US president's commitment to a landmark nuclear accord with Iran, which has been preventing foreign investors from clinching deals with Tehran, Press TV reported.

During his election campaign, US President Donald Trump has denounced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) calling it the "the worst deal ever negotiated', and pledged to tear it up.

Araqchi said, "If Trump rips up the JCPOA, he will have to bear the costs. In that case, we will have to move diligently and dexterously so that the costs don't fall on us."

The official said Trump was currently examining the accord but there were signs that he would stick to it.

"At the moment, the consensus is against Trump and he has no other choice than to extend the JCPOA," Araqchi said.

The official, however, said delays in concluding Iranian oil and gas deals pertain to internal bickering over a new oil contract which has still to see the light of the day.

At present, contracts worth $80 billion are being negotiated and the delay is due to the lack of national consensus over the IPC (Iran Petroleum Contract, Araqchi noted.

Deputy Oil Minister Amirhossein Zamani-Nia said 25 MoUs have been signed with international oil companies so far, adding they would be finalized after May 22.

"The value of the MoUs, which are still being negotiated, will be $80-$85 billion if they are converted to contracts," he said.

Over the past year since the implementation of the JCPOA, Iran has won back its oil customers and raised production to the pre-sanctions level.

Zamani-Nia said Iran has boosted oil and condensate exports to more than 2.63 million barrels per day, adding the country earned about $34 billion from the exports in the year to March 20.

Among the major oil firms, France's Total has pledged about $5 billion of investment in Iran, but the company is awaiting US green light to implement it, he added.

"We understand it. Total has spent about $20 million in Iran in recent months and is working on its plans," Zamani-Nia said.

Meanwhile, Araqchi hailed the nuclear agreement, saying it had served its purpose.

"The JCPOA has cleared all the obstacles on the way of Iran's economy, and allowed the economy to move forward. However, we don't claim there are no non-JCPOA obstacles," he said.

"Having oil production and exports restored to their previous levels within a year was a masterpiece," he added.



US thwarts deals


A London-based daily said that the US government has thwarted many funding projects and deals in Iran during the past months.

Citing European banks' sources, Asharq al-Awsat said many visits by European delegations to Tehran since the lifting of sanctions on Iran in January 2016 had failed to bear fruit.

The sanctions were removed under a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, but Washington has imposed new penalties under numerous pretexts, including those pertaining to Iran's missile defense program.

The paper said European investors had to forgo most projects because their operations fell foul of sanctions imposed on a number of Iranian entities blacklisted by US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

One French banker told the paper they abolished certain operations in Iran because they feared to be fined like BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Societe Generale Bank Jordan which had to cough up $15 billion in penalties.

A German banker revealed that "most of the business visits by German, French and Swiss delegations to Tehran since the lifting of sanctions went in vain".

"There is a serious concern among huge Western banks since they don't want to take the risk," Asharq al-Awsat reported quoting unnamed official as saying.

Some board members of a European bank were shocked to find they had been banned from travelling to the US, the paper added.

Those bans appear to be in line with US President Donald Trump's executive order suspending immigration and visas for citizens from Iran and six other countries with majority Muslim populations.

Senior Iranian officials have repeatedly complained that the US is not adhering to its end of the bargain in the nuclear agreement. The Europeans agree but they mostly play a double game, refusing to commit to serious trade with the Islamic Republic.

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