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Oil Majors Queue in Iran as $30 Billion of Projects in Play

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by Golnar MotevalliAnthony Dipaola and Hashem Kalantari: November 28, 2015:

  • Shell, Total, Lukoil interested in specific Iranian fields

  • Iran seeks to sign first oil development deal in March, April

Total SA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Lukoil PJSC are among international companies that have selected oil and natural gas deposits to develop in Iran as the holder of the world’s fourth-largest crude reserves presents $30 billion worth of projects to investors.

Total is one of the companies that have been in the forefront of discussions and Eni SpA is also looking to invest, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said. Shell, Total and Lukoil all specified fields they would be interested in developing in Iran, Ali Kardor, deputy director of investment and financing at National Iranian Oil Co. said in an interview in Tehran.

“Many companies are interested. Europeans are interested, Asian companies are interested,” Zanganeh told reporters at a conference in Tehran on Saturday. “Total is interested, Eni is interested.”

Iran is pitching 70 oil and natural gas projects valued at $30 billion to foreign investors at a two-day conference in Tehran that started today as the Persian Gulf country prepares for the end of sanctions that have stifled its energy production. All banking and economic sanctions will be lifted by the first week of January,” Amir Hossein Zamaninia, deputy oil minister for international and commerce affairs, said at the event.

“We are interested to come back to Iran when the sanctions are lifted and if the contracts are interesting,” Stephane Michel, Total’s head of exploration and production in the Middle East said at the conference. “We have worked in this country for a long time, so we know specific fields on which we’ve worked.” Representatives of Lukoil and Shell declined to comment at the conference.

Additional Production

Iran won’t have a problem to sell an additional 500,000 barrels a day once the sanctions are lifted, and the quantity won’t have a significant impact on prices, Zamaninia told reporters. The country hopes it can reach an agreement with fellow members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries so that Iran’s planned additional production remains within the 30 million barrels a day OPEC production ceiling, he said. Iran doesn’t expect OPEC to change that output target at its Dec. 4 meeting, Zanganeh said.

The country plans to boost total oil output capacity to 5.7 million barrels a day by the end of 2020, with the help of new production contributed through new energy contact models, Roknoddin Javadi, managing director of state-run National Iranian Oil Co., said at the event. The figure includes both crude and condensate output, he said. Iran pumped 2.7 million barrels a day in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Iran could sign its first development contract in March or April, Kardor said. The new 20-year energy contracts framework is being introduced to investors at the Tehran conference, he said. “The next step is for foreign vendors to make a technical assessment and choose a domestic partner.”

International companies will need to find a local partner for exploration and production projects, with more than half of engineering and construction and equipment manufacture done by Iranian firms, Javadi said.

The country is offering 52 oil and gas development projects in addition to 18 exploration blocks, according to a brochure from the Iranian oil ministry. That includes projects at 29 new and currently producing oilfields and 23 gas developments. Onshore fields make up 34 of the projects.

Iran’s oil exports fell to an average 1.4 million barrels a day last year from 2.6 million in 2011 due to the sanctions on the country, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. U.S. sanctions on Iran limit it to selling about 1 million barrels of crude a day to China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan, with additional purchases of condensate, a light oil liquid found in gas deposits, also allowed.

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