Iran Cancels London Oil Confab

Iran Cancels London Oil ConfabIran Cancels London Oil Confab

Iran has cancelled a London conference where it was set to introduce new oil and gas contracts to investors, the Seda weekly reported on Saturday citing a senior Iranian official who blamed a delay in getting visas.

Postponed five times amid uncertainty over international sanctions against Iran which were lifted this month, the conference had been set for Feb. 22-24, Reuters reported.

"Foreign companies will now be invited in May to bid for the new Iran Petroleum Contract," Ali Kardor, deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company told the weekly.

"The London conference has been canceled because the British Embassy in Tehran could not issue visas for representatives of Iranian companies as its visa section has yet to become active."

Kardor said there will be bids in May for new contracts, so there will be no need to hold a conference abroad after the bids.

Iran is sweetening the terms of its oil development contracts to attract international companies as part of efforts to uplift its underinvested economy.

Some 135 firms, including BP, France's Total, Italy's Eni and Spain's Repsol, attended a conference in Tehran in November to hear about the IPC.

International sanctions on Iran were lifted this month as part of a nuclear deal reached with six major powers in 2015 in exchange for placing time-bound limits on Tehran's nuclear program.

OPEC producer Iran has said it now plans to increase its output by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) and soon by another 500,000 bpd.

A draft of the IPC was approved by the government in September, but the official said the new contract still require the approval of NIOC's Board of Governors.

The IPC would end a two-decade-old buyback system that banned foreign companies from booking reserves or taking equity stakes in Iranian companies.