Iran delays oil contracts conference until after nuclear talks

August 25, 2014 | Government & Regulations, Middle East

Tehran, Iran | – The Islamic Republic of Iran is delaying by three months a conference to offer international companies rights to develop oil deposits there, allowing the London event to fall after negotiations on the country’s nuclear program are set to end.

Foreign companies will be able to express interest in producing crude and natural gas in Iran “immediately” after a final nuclear deal is reached, said Mehdi Hosseini, head of the Oil Contracts Revision Committee.

Iran and six global powers have given themselves until Nov. 24 to agree on limits to the Persian Gulf state’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions on the country. The London conference, previously scheduled for Nov. 3, will take place in late February, to allow companies to participate that would otherwise be barred by sanctions from dealing with Iran, Hosseini said.

“We are very interested in seeing the international companies, especially the major companies, participate in that conference,” Hosseini said in an interview at his Tehran office. He declined to name fields or indicate how many will be offered, saying details will be announced in February.

Sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and financial industries have cut crude output and exports. Production in Iran, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has fallen below 3 MMbpd since July 2012, from as much as 4.1 MMbpd in 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. and its allies say Iran may be seeking to develop atomic-weapons technology. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Future investors in Iran’s oil and gas fields will be able to disclose the size of reserves in those deposits and the level of production as an annex to their financial statements, without having any ownership rights over those assets, Hosseini said. International companies seek access to hydrocarbons to book reserves, a form of reporting by which they can claim a share of oil and show they can replace barrels they produce.