Glencore Executives Visit Iran for Oil Talks

Glencore Executives Visit Iran for Oil TalksGlencore Executives Visit Iran for Oil Talks

Global mining and commodity trading firm Glencore met with Iranian officials in Tehran to discuss possible business deals, should economic sanctions be lifted, industry sources said on Thursday.

Iran is negotiating with the United States and five other big powers—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—a deal under which Tehran would curtail its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. Iranian and western negotiators have moved closer toward a deal over Tehran’s nuclear program at meetings in Vienna this week, even as a deadline for talks had to be extended.

"Exploratory talks took place around potential business opportunities subject to the removal of the relevant sanctions," the spokesman for Glencore was quoted by Reuters as saying on Thursday.

An industry source said Glencore's head of oil, Alex Beard, led a small team which met with Iranian officials to discuss potential oil deals. Royal Dutch Shell held similar discussions in Tehran last month. Other companies are also understood to be in discussions with Iran,

Glencore’s visit follows discussions between European oil majors Shell and Eni, and Tehran, over long-term investments in the country’s oil and gas industry when western sanctions are lifted. But Glencore is the first commodities trader confirmed to have visited Tehran close to the deadline for a nuclear deal.

Iran’s oil exports have been curbed by sanctions since 2012, falling to about 1 million barrels a day. Iran is the third-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumping about 2.8 million bpd. Analysts predict it could add another 600,000 bpd of production within a year, helping maintain the current oversupply in world markets. It is finalizing a contract system to secure about $100 billion of new oil and gas deals with western companies after the removal of sanctions.