British Delegation Discusses Oil Ties

British Delegation Discusses Oil TiesBritish Delegation Discusses Oil Ties

Tehran and London explored grounds for cooperation in the oil and gas sector in the post-sanctions period.

Amirhossein Zamaninia, deputy for international affairs at the Oil Ministry, and a delegation of British trade and government officials met in Tehran on Sunday.

The British mission was headed by Francis Maude, the country's minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster-general, along with senior representatives from BP and oil services company Petrofac, among others, Mehr News Agency reported.

The UK delegation was briefed on the framework of Iran's revised oil contract, which will be unveiled in a conference later this month before a thorough presentation in London in February.

Maude said British firms want to open a new chapter in energy ties with the oil-rich Persian Gulf country, Fars News Agency reported.

"We seek long-term investment in Iran," Fars quoted the British envoy as saying on Sunday. "We are keen to reestablish ties once the sanctions are lifted, but Iran should ensure British companies of a secure investment in the long run."

Diplomatic relations were strained in November 2011 when Iran announced it was expelling the British ambassador in response to London's support for tougher sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program. The UK responded by closing the Iranian Embassy in London later that month.

But the two countries wasted no time to restore diplomatic ties, as Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran a month after the landmark July 14 nuclear agreement, marking an end to a four-year freeze in bilateral diplomatic ties induced by angry protesters storming the British mission.

Referring to BP and Royal Dutch Shell executives' visit to the Iranian capital shortly after the nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers, Maude said the duo seek a fortune in the Persian Gulf country's lucrative energy projects after the sanctions are lifted.

Zamaninia said the country's new oil contract will facilitate foreign investment in oil and gas projects.

Tehran has sweetened the terms of the new contract to attract billions of dollars in foreign direct investment for up to 50 oil exploration and production projects.

The deputy minister added that crude exports were halted to Britain and France after the US introduced tough sanctions against the Islamic Republic in 2011, but energy ties resumed when Iran shipped its first tanker of petrochemical products to France.

According to reports, Iran exported up to 14% of its petrochemical output to Europe in the pre-sanctions era, generating more than $2 billion in annual revenues.