NIOC Prefers Joint Ventures With Int’l Firms

NIOC Prefers Joint Ventures With Int’l FirmsNIOC Prefers Joint Ventures With Int’l Firms

Iran has unveiled details for long-awaited foreign cooperation contracts which it hopes will attract oil buyers and investors to modernize its ageing infrastructure, including offers to take part in joint ventures to extract its huge reserves.

"Iran is going to apply a new version of oil contract model in order to make it more attractive for foreign investors, with similar terms to a production sharing agreement," said Shahrouz Abolhosseini, petroleum products pricing manager at the National Iranian Oil Company during a business meeting in the South Korean capital on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

"NIOC aims to embark on joint ventures with foreign investors and international companies in the oil and gas industry," he added.

Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has some of the world's biggest oil and gas reserves, and officials have identified around four dozen projects worth $185 billion it hopes to develop by 2020.

Pre-sanctions agreements between Iran and foreign energy firms offered partners oil and gas revenue payments in return for cash investment in so-called buyback contracts.

Foreigners were barred from joint ventures or from extracting themselves, making these contracts unpopular with investors. Bu the new contracts are expected to turn things around.

Also in Seoul, Ali Asghar Arshi, adviser to the deputy minister for international affairs and commerce, said the main advantage of the new contracts over the previous buybacks would be more contractual flexibility. He did not elaborate. Iran's Oil Ministry said in August it would officially present the new contracts at a conference in London in December.

Tehran's move is a latest attempt to attract buyers beyond offering outright oil discounts, which have included offers of extended credit and free cost of shipping.

Last month, Woo Tae-hee, South Korea's deputy trade minister, was part of a delegation to Iran seeking energy and construction deals, and said Seoul would consider increasing its oil imports from Iran once sanctions are lifted.

Iran exported almost 3 million barrels per day of crude at its peak before the sanctions but saw shipments collapse to about 1 million bpd over the last two years.

Tehran hopes to add 500,000 bpd to production within two months of easing sanctions, and as much as 1 million bpd in 6-7 months.

Many sellers, especially within OPEC, which has ruled out production cuts to defend market share rather than ensure higher prices, have heavily discounted their oil to attract buyers, who can increasingly pick the best offers as there is more oil on offer than needed.