Oil Minister Zanganeh: “I dare not name the projects that are near to being agreed.”


Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh has expressed concern that new oil and gas contracts, a centerpiece of economic recovery, are in jeopardy amid US sanctions and Donald Trump’s remarks.

Zanganeh told a press conference on Sunday:

Trump is trying to destabilize market conditions for those who want to work in Iran. For the past year, every three or four months, he has destabilized the market. One cannot say that this is not without effect.

Iran has raised oil exports by about 40% since the January 2016 implementation of a nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia). However, its capacity for increased production in oil and gas requires investment in fields, with foreign firms necessary to provide the required technology.

Despite implementation of the nuclear agreement, the US has maintained some sanctions on Iran, and these have been expanded by the Trump Administration in the past year. Foreign firms, especially from Europe, are concerned that they face American punishment if they complete trade and investment arrangements with Tehran.

Zanganeh again said that Iran is currently negotiating with “more than 20 foreign companies” for oil and gas development. However, he said, “I dare not name the projects that are near to being agreed. If I do so, from tomorrow there will be pressure for them not to sign contracts with us.”

The Oil Minister indicated the pressure was not just from the US, with some countries “both at the international and regional level” telling European and Asian firms not to agree contracts with Iran. He did not name the countries.

Zanganeh did maintain optimism over a $4.9 billion contract with France’s Total for development of a phase of the South Pars gas field, the largest in the world.

The agreement was signed in late July, but Total has suspended it, citing uncertainty around US sanctions.

Zanganeh said on Monday, “I consider that Total is very serious….I hope it will implement the accord and I think that in a short period of time, it will sign agreements with subcontractors,” Zanganeh said. He insisted that Iran had plans “if the deal ever runs into trouble” because of US pressure.

Man With Knife Shot by President Rouhani’s Security

A man armed with a large knife has been shot by President Rouhani’s security team.

The deputy of the Tehran Governor said the man tried to enter through the security gate of the President’s office. He was shot in the leg and is still alive.

Iranian media said the 35-year-old man was wearing a white shroud, symbolizing his readiness to sacrifice his life.

It is not clear if Rouhani was in his office at the time of the incident.

Clashes as Security Forces Try to Detain 90-Year-Old Sufi Leader

Security forces have clashed with civilians as they tried to detain the 90-year-old leader of the Gonabadi Dervishes, a Sufi religious order.

For the second time in less than two weeks, plainclothes officers affiliated with intelligence services gathered on the street north of Tehran where Nour Ali Tabandeh lives.

But as intelligence and security agents surrounded the house on Saturday night, dervishes and other people gathered to prevent a detention, chanting slogans in opposition. Clashes were reported from 7 am on Sunday.

Journalist Kasra Nouri said personnel with the police, Revolutionary Guards, and Basij paramilitary stormed the area on Sunday morning and beat the dervishes.

Dervishes fought back. Video showed them setting fire to at least motorbike.

The district police commander, Guards Gen. Massoud Mossadeq, intervened. He promised to use legal channels to establish the reasons behind the deployment of intelligence agents.

However, the plainclothesmen and Guards agents remained, with dervishes promising that they will not disperse until the security personnel and “rogue elements” are withdrawn.

It is not clear whether Tabandeh, who used to live near London, is present at the residence. On Sunday, his taped message was circulated, calling for peace and order:

Lots of work has been done for keeping peace in the country, though at the expense of getting beaten on our heads; yet, the country is calm, anyway. Do not disturb it [the peace] in vain. There is nobody threatening my life or my house. They want a show off. This is a wrong approach.

Dervishes have been periodically harassed and detained by Iran’s authorities. The order dates to the 12th century and has followers across Asia, North Africa, and the Balkans.