Larijani Reproaches Anti-IPC Protesters

Larijani Reproaches Anti-IPC ProtestersLarijani Reproaches Anti-IPC Protesters

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani called on opponents of Iran’s new oil and gas contracts to abide by the constitution, as he tried to ease tensions following last week’s protests outside the Oil Ministry headquarters in Tehran.

“There is law to deal with affairs … [oil and gas] contracts cannot be revised by taking to the streets,” Larijani said on Sunday, Shana reported.

“Let’s assume you [protesters] are against some of the terms of the contracts … You cannot write a contract through demonstrations. Such actions are against the law.” Dozens of people on Saturday protested against Iran’s new contractual framework, officially known as the Iran Petroleum Contract, by rallying in front of the Oil Ministry building in Tehran.

They branded IPC “a plunder of national assets” and said it is in contrast with the “Resistance Economy”, a set of policies proposed by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to counter sanctions, cut consumption and boost production. According to reports, police arrested nearly 40 people involved in the unrest, but many of them had been released by Monday.

IPC has been a subject of dispute among officials and experts. Proponents say it is essentially a concession of Iran’s rich hydrocarbon reserves to foreign companies, with one analyst saying the new contracts are “a return to days before the oil industry was nationalized”.

Proponents say the development of oil and gas fields requires foreign technology and investment, stressing that a lack of money and equipment justifies the Oil Ministry’s policy in reaching out to internationals.

Iran unveiled its new contracts for more than 50 oil and gas development projects in a major conference in November. Government officials say the new contracts are more appealing to international investors compared to the so-called buyback contracts that were in place for the past 20 decades.

The buyback contracts were unpopular with multinationals even before the introduction of tougher US and EU sanctions against Tehran in 2012. The model was largely criticized for its fixed scope of work, capital cost ceiling, remuneration fee and defined cost recovery period.

The Persian Gulf state hopes to attract at least $25 billion in the post-sanctions era to revamp its aging oil and gas production infrastructure after years of underinvestment due to sanctions and economic woes. Tehran was set to unveil more details of the new contract in a London conference later this month, but postponed the conference to May because of what Iranian officials blamed on the delay in issuing visa by the British Embassy.