The Ministry of Petroleum in Iran replaced the head of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) yesterday as tensions within the government over how best to handle the return of foreign investment to the country came to a head.
Following the resignation of Roknodin Javadi, who has occupied the post of managing director of NIOC since 2013, the company’s head of investment, Ali Kardor, was announced as successor to the top job. Kardor has been instrumental in attracting foreign companies and investors back to the Iran following the lifting of international sanctions in January.
Meanwhile, Javadi has been appointed deputy minister in charge of supervising hydrocarbon resources, according to NIOC.
Government officials have disagreed over how to handle an influx of foreign interest in investment following the signing of the JCPOA, and have so far failed to reach a consensus on the terms that should be offered to foreign companies under the new Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC), as they are known. The government is under pressure from conservative lawmakers and other groups not to provide foreign companies with terms they deem too generous.
“Now that President Rouhani’s administration is trying to open up the country, particularly the oil and gas sector, and has begun the process of offering a very attractive contractual arrangement to foreign investors, Iranian hardliners – the opposition, and other centres of power within the country – are very aggressively opposing this development,” Dr Elham Hassanzadeh told Adjacent Oil & Gas back in April.
On Sunday, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh claimed that a consensus has now been reached and that the first contracts could be signed within three months, according to the ministry’s news agency, Shana. He is also said to have confirmed that Total, Eni and Lukoil have priority for signing the IPC following recent meetings with officials in Vienna.
Although no deals have yet been signed on production and development inside Iran, the country has resumed sales of crude oil to the European Union after a three-year ban. Reuters reported last week that Shell have resumed purchases of Iranian crude, along with Total. Refineries in Spain, Italy and Greece have all received shipments since January, with Iran selling up to 400,000 barrels per day to the EU.