New Head at NICO

New Head at NICO  New Head at NICO

Iran on Tuesday reappointed a former managing director of its Swiss-based trading company as part of a broader reshuffle aimed at bolstering oil exploration and exports.

Majid Hedayatzadeh will return as managing director of Swiss-based Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), the Oil Ministry's Shana news agency reported.

The former diplomat held the job from 2001 until 2008.

The appointment follows the naming this month of a new boss for the National Iranian Oil Company, as Tehran looks to spur exports and long-awaited deals with international oil firms ahead of its 2017 presidential election.

"The assignment follows a decree issued by Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh," the report said. "The decree orders Hedayatzadeh to embark on a reshuffle in, and revival of, the role of NICO internationally."

Reza Mostafavi Tabatabaei, a London-based oil consultant who has worked on projects in Iran, said the NIOC, of which NICO is a part, is looking to better compete with regional state-run rivals such as Saudi Aramco.

"NIOC wants to get back its share in Europe. The plan for the next Iranian year is to focus more on marketing and to get more organized," Tabatabaei said.

Zanganeh this month named Ali Kardor as managing director of NIOC. On Tuesday, Kardor appointed Mohsen Paknejad as his deputy for production affairs.

Hedayatzadeh since March has served as NIOC's deputy for international affairs. In his new role, he will eventually oversee all of NIOC's international marketing and sales.

Tehran's oil sales have nearly doubled since December and energy firms such as Royal Dutch Shell and Total have resumed purchases.

The Oil Ministry is working on rewording a contract aimed at attracting investment from international oil firms following January's lifting of sanctions on Tehran imposed over its nuclear program.

But the new contractual framework, known as Iran Petroleum Contracts, has met with some opposition inside the country.

Opponents of the framework say IPC would end a buyback system dating back more than 20 years under which foreign firms have been banned from booking reserves or taking equity stakes in Iranian companies.