Zanganeh to Discuss Oil Freeze, Deals at IEF

Zanganeh cooled down expectations on reaching an agreement to freeze crude supplies, saying that the gathering is only meant for exchanging views
Iran has lined up South Azadegan Oilfield as the first project to be tendered under the IPC framework.Iran has lined up South Azadegan Oilfield as the first project to be tendered under the IPC framework.

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh is in Algiers, Algeria, for the 15th International Energy Forum to discuss a proposal with OPEC members on freezing oil production and meet with the executives of major oil and gas companies.

Zanganeh is scheduled to address the IEF on Tuesday, according to a statement by Shana, the Iranian Oil Ministry's official news agency.

According to Mehr News Agency, Zanganeh is expected to meet with Patrick Pouyanne, the chief executive officer of French oil and gas firm Total, and Mike Muller, vice president for crude trading and supply at the Royal Dutch Shell, on the sidelines of the forum that is underway from Sept. 26-28.

The talks will primarily revolve around selling oil based on the new Iran Petroleum Contract and inviting foreign enterprises to participate in tenders to be offered in the near future, Mehr reported.

Ali Kardor, the head of state-run National Iranian Oil Company, had already announced that Iran's first oil industry international tenders would be offered in late September, when the South Azadegan Oilfield project will be put out to tender.

Referring to Total's proposal to play a role not only in the development of South Azadegan Oilfield but also South Pars Phase 11, Kardor added that plans have been made to finalize the deal to develop three oil and gas fields by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2017).

Reportedly, Iran and Total have signed a deal on exporting 160,000-200,000 barrels of oil per day. The country has recently sealed a contract for spot oil delivery to Royal Dutch Shell.

The biennial IEF ministerial meetings are the world's largest gathering of energy ministers.

------- Tehran Dashes Hopes for Oil Accord

Speaking on Monday before leaving Tehran for Algiers, Zanganeh cooled down expectations on reaching an agreement to freeze crude supplies, saying that the gathering is only meant for exchanging views.

"The meeting is only for consultation and nothing more should be expected," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Shana.

He added that the informal talks could be a warm-up for OPEC's next official summit in Vienna in November. According to reports, the gathering may turn into a formal meeting if producers come close to an output freeze agreement.

The statements by Iran's top oil official come as Saudi Arabia signaled last week that it is ready to cut production if Iran freezes output at current level.

OPEC producers and non-members are seeking an initiative to cap crude supplies to ease a global glut and prop up prices which have lost value by more than 60% from their peak levels in 2014.

A similar attempt in Doha, Qatar, ended in acrimony in April after Saudi Arabia rejected to freeze production because Iran had refused to join the talks.

Noureddine Bouterfa, energy minister of Algeria, Sun Xiansheng, secretary-general of the International Energy Forum, Alexander Novak, Russia's energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih minister of energy, industry and mineral resources of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC secretary-general, and Iran's Mohammad Hossein Adeli, the head of Gas Exporting Countries Forum, will be among the key participants and speakers.

IEF countries account for more than 90% of global oil and gas supply and demand. It aims to foster greater mutual understanding and awareness of common energy interests among its 75 member countries.

------- IPC Tenders

Iran has lined up the giant South Azadegan Oilfield as the first of dozens of projects to be tendered under its new oil contract.

"The bidding process for the sought-after onshore project will begin this month or in early October," Kardor said.

Located 80 kilometers west of Ahvaz, the shared South Azadegan field with Iraq holds an estimated 33 billion barrels of oil in place.

Kardor expects two or three oil deals under the new contractual model by next March, which would attract an estimated $10 billion in foreign investment.

Iran has signed seven preliminary agreements with foreign oil companies, including Austria's OMV, France's Total, Germany's Wintershall, Indonesia's Pertamina, Russia's Lukoil and Zarubezhneft, to study its oilfields.

Production from South Azadegan currently stands at 60,000 barrels per day, but plans call for raising output to 320,000 barrels a day within two years.

NIOC and France's Total signed a nondisclosure agreement in April, based on which the French major will propose its strategy to develop South Azadegan.

Total is not expected to be the sole foreign contractor in South Azadegan. The field’s second development phase reportedly requires $5 billion in investment, with some big names in negotiations for its drilling and production rights, including France's Entrepose Contracting and South Korean conglomerate Hyundai and Japan’s Marubeni.