1254 GMT March 25, 2018
According to Tass news agency, Alexander Novak further said, "These companies made fairly good progress in negotiations. Our Iranian colleagues confirmed that specific contracts may be signed shortly."
Speaking to reporters in Moscow Tuesday, he said that more than 10 different fields have been presented to Gazprom, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Zarubezhneft, Taftneft and Lukoil for development.
The Russian companies, he added, were open to partnership with other foreign entities to carry out oil projects in Iran — something which Iranian officials have been encouraging as a way to guard against possible sanctions.
"I think such options are also possible. Everything will depend on a specific agreement," Novak said.
On Tuesday, India's ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL) signed a cooperation agreement similar to the one Zarubezhneft inked with Iran's Industrial Development and Renovation Organization (IDRO) Oil last month to jointly bid for the development of Susangerd oilfield in southwest Iran.
The three companies must form a consortium to solicit the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the contract to produce 30,000 barrels per day (bdp) of crude oil from Susangerd field located 45km from Ahvaz, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Novak's announcement came after NIOC Managing Director Ali Kardor said Saturday that Iran would sign three oil deals before March 20 which will include operation of the fields for 20 years.
Russian companies have signed a record number of initial oil and gas contracts with Iran since the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in January 2016.
Novak said Tuesday Iran was also ready to supply crude oil to Russia but that would depend on future agreements with the buyers of the oil.
Iranian and Russian officials have announced several times the imminent beginning of Iran's crude oil exports to Russia under an oil-for-goods barter scheme but it has never come through.
The arrangement dates back to 2014 under which Moscow would buy up to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods. It calls for swapping around 300,000 bpd via the Caspian Sea and the rest from the Persian Gulf.
For now, the two sides are considering shipping 100,000 bpd of Iranian oil to Russia, with supplies being "either physical or swap-based", Novak has said.
Kardor said in October that Iran was about to receive 50 percent of payment in euros and the rest in goods and services.
The final document of the 14th Iran-Russia Joint Economic Cooperation Commission meeting was signed in Moscow Tuesday night by Iran's Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Masoud Karbasian and Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin.
The document calls for cooperation between the Russian Energy Ministry and Iranian Oil Ministry on the construction of Iran-India-Pakistan gas pipeline, expansion of joint geological cooperation, investments in Iranian mining and industry sectors, financing their projects and conducting joint research on Caspian Sea resources and how to develop them.
Among the other agreements signed during the 14th Iran-Russia Joint Economic Cooperation Commission meeting in Moscow from March 5 to 7, were MoUs on art and cultural cooperation, transportation and goods transit between Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan and wheat swap.
The Iranian minister, heading a 75-member delegation, arrived in Moscow Sunday morning to take part in the joint commission meeting.
In addition, Novak said Moscow and Tehran discussed deliveries of Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger planes to Iran amid uncertainties about deals with Boeing and Airbus.
"We discussed the possibility of Sukhoi Superjet 100 purchase by our Iranian partners and outlined a plan of how this can be put it into practice," Russian media quoted him as saying in Moscow Tuesday.
In January 2018, Iran's Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei said Iran is determined to buy Russian-made planes for its commercial fleet.
He made the remarks after a joint commission meeting of the two countries' officials, stating that the two sides also agreed on supplies of Russian-made vehicles, such as KAMAZ and UAZ buses and trucks, to Iran.
"Today we discussed the deliveries of rail carriages. We have already delivered 1,200 of them and plan to deliver about 3,000 in 2018," the Rossiya-24 TV channel quoted him as saying.
The two sides were also working to sign free trade documents between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union countries possibly in May, Novak said.
"The move to enter into a temporary agreement making for a free trade zone to be set up between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, which is currently at an advanced stage, will obviously trigger further development of our bilateral trade and expansion of investment cooperation," he said.
Novak said Russia and Iran also need to step up work to increase trade in national currencies.
According to the Russian minister, bilateral trade in 2017 stood at $1.7 billion, but 'there are still unresolved issues'.
"I think it is necessary to intensify the work in this direction with a view to ensure an increase in the volume of trade in our national currencies, and to further simplify the calculation procedures," Novak said.
Wheat swap deal
In a report, bloomberg.com quoted the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture (TCCIM), on March 4 as saying that Iran agreed to buy wheat from Russia and Kazakhstan, and total shipments may reach one million metric tons a year over the next five years.
By this, Iran is giving Russia another market to offload its massive wheat harvest.
"There is unused capacity at Iran’s flour mills," said Kaveh Zargaran, the chairman of the TCCIM's agriculture committee in Moscow.
Shipments may start at the end of next month if Iran's private millers can obtain loans to buy the grain, he said.
Russia has been shipping out wheat at a record pace this season as the world's top exporter offloads its biggest ever harvest. Attractive prices for the grain have helped the country acquire market share from places like the US and Europe, while Moscow has also been eying up new destinations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Novak, who oversees trade with Iran, on Tuesday said he expects sales to Iran to reach 1.5 million tons a year.
Iran signed an MoU with Russia and Kazakhstan on March 4 that laid out some details of the trade, Zargaran said.
The agreement leaves in place a ban on imports of wheat for domestic use, which is designed to support local farmers, he added.
Iran has been encouraging flour exports, with the government amending some market rules last year, and is targeting more sales to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey, the second-biggest buyer of Russian wheat, now dominates Iraq's market, Zargaran said.