High-Level Energy Talks With Russia

High-Level Energy Talks With RussiaHigh-Level Energy Talks With Russia

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak held high-level talks with Iran's telecom and oil ministers on Wednesday during the first day of his visit to the Iranian capital at the head of a high-ranking delegation to explore opportunities for cooperation and investment in the Persian Gulf country.

Novak is also scheduled to meet First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, the ministers of energy, economy and roads, as well as the head of the Central Bank of Iran during his two-day trip, Shana reported.

In a meeting with Iran's Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi in the first meeting of the day, Novak hoped a $5 billion credit line will be opened between Tehran and Moscow after establishing an Iranian-Russian bank.

"Iran is Russia's most important economic and commercial partner," he was quoted as saying by the official portal of the Telecom Ministry. "Iran-Russia trade balance is now slightly above $1 billion, but there is a huge potential to boost the current level of trade ties."

He added that the visit "marks a new era of cooperation" between Iran and Russia, pointing to the landmark July 14 deal between Iran and six world powers in Vienna that limits Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting decades-old oil and trade embargoes.

Novak is heading a 40-strong delegation of Russian companies in the oil, gas, petrochemical, power plant and railroad industries, including the state-owned Gazprom and Zarubezhneft, the country's largest independent natural gas producer Novatek, Bashneft, Russia's fourth largest oil producer Gazprom Neft, exploration services company Rosgeo, engineering firm Technopromexport and the state-run Russian Railways.

"Russian firms have signed $5 billion worth of deals to develop the power plant sector in Iran, with an agreement in place on electrifying the Iranian railroad by Russian contractors," Novak said.

Vaezi referred to vast grounds for cooperation with Moscow and said the private sectors of the two countries can play a significant role in bolstering commercial ties.

"No country can replace Russia … economic relations with Moscow will only grow after the sanctions," Vaezi said.

  Oil Cooperation

Later on Wednesday, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh hosted Novak to discuss bilateral ties and the global crude market.

"Having access to massive hydrocarbon resources is the biggest reason to expand energy ties with Russia," he said. "The focus of the present round of talks is Iran's new contracts for developing its oil and gas fields as well as swap deals."

Zanganeh said Iran can receive oil, gas and condensates from Russia in the north and sell them to the Persian Gulf customers in the south.

However, the Iranian minister appeared to be critical of what he described as Russia's "traditional approach" with regard to oil prices.

"They (Russians) say they are happy with current crude prices … Mr. Novak says Russian oil has not contributed to the global oil glut and other countries are producing extra oil," he said.

  $10b Trade Target

The Russian delegation's visit to Iran is aimed at laying the groundwork for expanding bilateral trade transactions to $10 billion a year, head of the Russian Energy Agency, Anatoly Tikhonov, said.

"Oil and petroleum-related industries are a priority in Tehran-Moscow trade ties," he said before the Russian mission's arrival in Tehran. "A lot has been done over the past 18 months to boost bilateral relations and a positive prospect is ahead of the two country's cooperation."

He expected the agreements reached during the present round of talks would be implemented during an Iranian delegation's visit to attend a joint economic commission in Moscow next month.

Russian oil and gas companies will also participate in a November conference in Tehran, in which the Persian Gulf country will unveil the revised version of its long-anticipated new oil contracts, officially known as the Iran Petroleum Contract or IPC, Tikhonov said.

Before setting off to Tehran, Novak described the Islamic Republic as an important hub of economy and transport. He pointed to the history of Russian corporations in the Persian Gulf country and underlined the potential for exporting transportation and wood processing equipment and machinery to Iran.