Iran Eyes More West Karun Gains As Investment Concerns Deepen

New contracts with IOCs to develop Iranian fields always seem to be just around the corner. Iran is adamant that contracts will be signed before 21 March, but it seems unlikely that this will include the highest-profile fields on offer.

Heightened geopolitical tension is deterring international investors from returning to Iran’s upstream. Iran has successfully brought crude output and exports back up to pre-sanctions levels since January 2016 ( MEES, 9 February ). But foreign participation is required if it is to make the next step.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh says Iran’s oil and gas sector needs $200bn investment, of which 65-75% ($130-150bn) would be from international firms. But to date, the only post-sanctions deal remains June 2017’s $4.8bn agreement with France’s Total and China’s CNPC for Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field ( MEES, 23 June 2017 ).

At the time, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Ali Kardor, said he aimed to sign contracts worth $15bn with IOCs during the current Iranian year (ends 20 March 2018). With Phase 11 valued at $4.8bn, this implies at least two more deals by late-March. Further contracts are always just around the corner according to Iranian officials, and never quite materialize. (CONTINUED - 1075 WORDS)