News ID: 215576
Published: 1246 GMT May 23, 2018

Austria's OMV stands by Iran project

Austria's OMV stands by Iran project

Austrian energy group OMV said it is continuing with planned Iranian energy projects despite the US pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

European firms doing business in Iran face US sanctions after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 which included the US, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany in 2015. The other signatories have indicated that they hope to salvage the deal, Reuters reported.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire brought up the idea that the European Union could compensate European companies that might face US sanctions.

Last week, French energy giant Total joined other European companies in signaling a possible exit from Iran in light of Trump's decision.

OMV was monitoring political developments in the US and the European Union very closely, OMV's upstream chief Johann Pleininger told its annual shareholder meeting in Vienna.

"The project has not come to a standstill, it is continuing," Pleininger said with regard to Iran, adding that "no investments have been made yet".

The Austrian group, which generates the bulk of its profit in Europe, started operations in Iran in 2001 as the operator of the Mehr exploration block in the west of the country.

OMV halted operations in 2006 due to sanctions, but following the removal of sanctions, it signed a memorandum with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in May 2016 for projects located in the Zagros area in the west and the Fars field in the south, where foreign firms often need a local partner.

In June 2017, OMV and Russia's Gazprom Neft announced a memorandum of understanding to work in Iran's oil sector.

At last year's shareholders meeting, Pleininger said the NIOC still owed OMV $48 million. OMV bought Iranian crude oil in April, a spokesman said this month but did not give any further detail.

OMV is Austria's former state petroleum company and the government still holds a 31.5 percent stake. Its second-biggest investor is Abu Dhabi industrial group Mubadala Investment with 24.9 percent.


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