LATEST: Iran & 5+1 Powers Begin Technical Talks on Implementation of Nuclear Deal
Seeking a recovery from a halving of its oil exports and a sharp drop in investment in its oil and gas fields, Iran has opened talks with Western companies.
Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s Eni, Austria’s OMV, and Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, all met with Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh last week in Vienna, on the sidelines of a conference of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Zanganeh, who oversaw an influx of Western investment as Oil Minister between 1997 and 2005, has said since he resumed office in August that he wanted to renew discussions.
“With OMV, we discussed about many things and [with] Shell only about the general willingness for cooperation in future,” Zanganeh said. “A various range of cooperation” was discussed with Vitol.
Industry sources said Vitol is discussing possible purchases of condensates once US-led sanctions are lifted on Iran.
OMV and Shell declined to comment but Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said, “We plan to continue to be in Iran and possibly increase our activity as long as the sanction regime is lifted.”
Scaroni cautioned that Iran would have to amend its investment terms of “buybacks”, in which companies are paid in oil only after completing a project.
The Oil Minister told Fars News Agency on Sunday that a resumption of investment could occur in South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, where development has been hampered by the exit of Western companies in 2010.
“Surely, if Phases 15 and 16 [of South Pars] start production we will see an increase in the country’s (gas) sweetening capacity,” Zanganeh said.
Sunni Insurgent Group Claim Attack Against IRGC Vehicle in Rasak, Sarbaz County
Sunni Baloch insurgent group Jaish ul-Adl have claimed responsibility for another attack in the predominantly Sunni Sistan Baluchestan province. Jaish ul-Adl say they carried out an attack with an explosive device against a vehicle conveying several members of the IRGC in Rasak, Sarbaz County, near the border with Pakistan. Click to see map.
— جيش العدل (@BalouchRightsAd) December 9, 2013
The claim is the latest in a series of attacks by the group against Iranian security forces in the province, near the Pakistani border. In retaliation, sources in Pakistan say that Iranian forces have carried out several cross-border mortar attacks against targets just across the border in Pakistan’s Mashkel area. The latest shelling took place on Sunday, with no casualties reported, sources said.
Iran & 5+1 Powers Begin Technical Talks on Implementation of Nuclear Deal
Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, France, Germany, Britain, China, and Russia) began expert-level talks on Monday on the details of the interim nuclear deal signed on November 24.
The two-day talks in Vienna are discussing matters such as Iran’s suspension of the enrichment of 20% uranium, with conversion of existing stock to fuel plates or dilution to 5%, and the easing of US-led sanctions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it would have “some involvement” in the discussions, held under strict secrecy.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s lead negotiator, said nuclear and Central Bank officials would take part.
Health Ministry Warns of Massive Budget Deficit
The Health Ministry has warned that it faces a budget deficit of tens of millions of dollars, criticizing the Ahmadinejad Government for its inaction.
Health Minister Sayed Hassan Hashemi said there was “a lack of sustainable sources for the health care system”.
In December 2012, Health Minister Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi was fired after she complained about the inability to get funds for vital imports of drugs and medical supplies.