Iran oil minister: no ban for US firms
TEHRAN, January 31, 2017 – Iran’s minister of petroleum was quoted on Tuesday as saying that US companies “face no ban” on entering the Iranian oil industry.
Bijan Namdar Zangeneh made the statement to the ILNA new agency, as reported by the state-affiliated Press TV.
His comments appeared to be the first from an Iranian official on how US President Donald Trump’s recent entry ban for most Iranian citizens would affect US-Iranian oil co-operation.
Trump’s executive order, signed Friday, provoked an assurance from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that reciprocal measures would be taken. Zarif did not specify the measures, but it is widely anticipated that Iran will bar US citizens from entry.
In Tuesday’s statement, Zangeneh noted that no US companies had “directly applied” to work in the market, likely a reference to the official qualification process overseen by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
In October, NIOC formally invited IOCs to submit documents to prequalify to participate in tenders for Iranian oil and gas projects.
However, US oilfield services giant Schlumberger appeared on an NIOC list of approved bidders released in early January. Iranian officials have made reference to conducting direct negotiations with major international companies, so it remains unclear whether the US firm applied for prequalification.
The company signed an MoU and non-disclosure agreement with NIOC in November for studies of the Shadegan, Parsi and Rag Sefid oilfields. On Sunday, an official from the National Iranian South Oil Company said Schlumberger was expected to submit a plan for the field studies in late February.