Iran Daily: Tehran Signs 2nd Oil and Gas Development Contract with Foreign Firm

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Hoping to renew outside investment after years of suspension, Iran has signed its second memorandum of understanding with a foreign firm for oil and gas development

The memorandum was signed with the French firm Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company, in a ceremony Ahvaz in southern Iran on Sunday. It covers the development of the Shadegan, Parsi and Rag-e Sefid oilfields in Khuzestan Province in the southwest of the country.

Earlier this month, France’s Total signed a contract to develop a major gas project in Iran’s South Pars gas field.

Italy’s Eni announced late last week that it is looking into investment prospects, but is waiting for Iran to settle debts over past projects.

Amid US-led sanctions, foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector ceased in 2010, with Russian and Chinese firms the last to pull out of contracts.

The Rouhani Government has made the renewal of investment a priority, following the implementation of the July 2015 nuclear deal; however, it has faced opposition from some hardline factions, including the Revolutionary Guards, who have extensive holdings in the development of the oil and gas fields.

Iran and foreign companies are yet to complete new Iran Petroleum Contracts after months of discussion. The Contracts allow overseas firms to take equity shares, alongside Iranian partners, in projects for the first time. However, negotiations continue over the length of the contracts and the amount of equity.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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