News ID: 209398
Published: 0243 GMT February 04, 2018

Zanganeh blasts Trump over oil, gas contracts

Zanganeh blasts Trump over oil, gas contracts

Iran's oil minister lashed out at the United States on Sunday, saying that hostile comments by President Donald Trump had torpedoed new oil and gas contracts for the Islamic Republic.

"Trump is trying to destabilize market conditions for those who want to work in Iran," Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said at a press conference, reported AFP.

"For the past year, every three or four months, he has destabilized the market. One cannot say that this is not without effect," he said.

The agreement in July 2015 of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers sparked keen interest among international investors keen to focus on the country's oil riches.

However, Trump's arrival in the White House a year ago, and his regular denunciations of the deal with Iran and the country in general, cooled their ardor.

Zanganeh disclosed that Tehran was currently negotiating with "more than 20 foreign companies" to develop its oil and gas fields.

"But I dare not name the projects that are near to being agreed. If I do so, from tomorrow there will be pressure on them not to sign contracts with us," he said.

Some countries "both at the international and regional level" are exerting pressure on European and Asian firms not to agree to contracts with Iran, Zanganeh added, without naming them.

However, he did say he was optimistic about a $5-billion (€4-billion) contract signed last July with the French group Total, which heads a consortium with China's CNPC to develop a gas field.

"I consider that Total is very serious... I hope it will implement the accord and I think that in a short period of time, it will sign agreements with subcontractors," Zanganeh said.

He added that Iran had planned measures "if the deal ever runs into trouble" because of pressure from the United States.


Crude daily production


Iran can raise daily production by at least 100,000 barrels within 'five or six days' if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decides that crude prices are high enough to justify abandoning its oil-cuts accord with other producers, he said.

"We're always adding to our production levels, from West Karoun and Azadegan," Zanganeh said, referring to two oil-producing areas in western Iran near the Iraq border. Iran has so far exercised 'self-restraint' in pumping to accommodate the group's decision in November to maintain the cuts, he said.

OPEC agreed with Russia and other producers to continue limiting production until the end of this year as they try to counter a threat from rival suppliers, including US shale drillers, and firm up prices.

The collective cuts, which took effect last January, targeted a reduction of about 1.8 million barrels a day. OPEC allowed Iran to boost production slightly to some 3.8 million barrels a day.

Brent crude, an international benchmark, has gained 48 percent since the producers first agreed to cap output. Brent ended trading in London on Friday at $68.58 a barrel.

"If we want to make a decision, it has be at the right time, which is June — when we'll next meet," Zanganeh said. "But my impression is that OPEC members are not after very expensive oil because very expensive oil leads to mid-term price fluctuations."


Legal proceedings against Pakistan


Elsewhere in his remarks, Zanganeh said that Iran is to begin legal proceedings against Pakistan in a protracted gas pipeline project.

Iran has laid the pipeline up to Pakistan's border, but Pakistan has neglected to take due measure on its soil, Zanganeh said adding that so the Oil Ministry is to take the issue to the court.

About Tehran-Ashgabat gas dispute, the minister said Iran did not import gas after Turkmenistan cut off its imports and claimed $1.8 billion in arrears from Iran.

The two sides did some swap after cutting-off measure, the official said adding Turkmenistan wants to settle the gas dispute through international court while Iran believes that Ashkhabad should compensate for the losses.

The dispute between Iran and Turkmenistan began over gas imports when Ashgabat, despite earlier agreements with Tehran, demanded illogically high rates for gas exported to Iran's northern regions.

On December 30, 2016, Iranian representatives who were in Turkmenistan for talks over the dispute were told by Tehran to leave the negotiations warning their Turkmen counterparts that Tehran will not accept anything beyond the bilateral agreements reached earlier.

Turning to the issue of gasoline, Zanganeh said Iran produced 16.5 million liters of the product, which shows an increase from the year which ended on March 20, 2017. Most of the output were produced at the Persian Gulf Star Refinery this year.

Iran, which is OPEC's third largest producer, pumped 3.83 million barrels a day last month.

Iran hopes to attract more than $150 billion to rebuild its energy industry following years of sanctions.

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