Austrian, Russian Energy Companies to Visit

A salt dome in Bushehr Province which could hold hydrocarbon reserves.A salt dome in Bushehr Province which could hold hydrocarbon reserves.

Delegations from Russia and Austria will visit Iran in the coming days to discuss grounds for investment and collaboration in the energy industry.

The Austrian mission is scheduled to arrive in Tehran on Saturday for a three-day visit to develop a roadmap for Iran-Austria energy ties. It reportedly consists of CEOs from Austrian companies, notably OMV, the country's integrated oil and gas company, the Oil Ministry's official news service Shana reported.

Jochen Penker, director of European and International Energy Policy at Austria's Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, will reportedly lead the team.

Investment in oil and gas exploration and production projects, energy efficiency programs, gas export to Europe, research and development and expansion of academic cooperation on environmental issues will be the focus of talks.

The Austrians are also planned to tour Tehran Oil Refinery and the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry—the R&D arm of Iran's Oil Ministry.

OMV was quick to reestablish ties with Tehran following the lifting of international sanctions in mid-January. It signed an agreement in May to study Iran's salt domes—one of the world's most prolific oil producing structures—in the west and south of the country.

Salt domes are massive underground salt deposits that often trap oil or natural gas in their tops, known as cap rock, serving as hydrocarbon reservoirs. According to published reports, the US started exploiting hundreds of salt domes in its oil-rich state of Texas over a century ago.

OMV, which resumed purchase of Iranian crude in September, is also looking to secure the development rights for two oilfields in western Iran.

  Energy Committee

A 30-member delegation of Russian companies and state officials is to visit on Dec. 12 for the 13th sessions of Iran-Russia Economic Commission.

According to reports, the two sides will discuss energy matters in a special committee which will be chaired by Amirhossein Zamaninia, Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs.

Tehran and Moscow have reinforced economic and energy ties over the past few years, having signed a $10-billion deal to build two new nuclear reactors with Russia's assistance in the southern Bushehr Province over a decade.

Russian's oil and gas companies are also interested in Iran's energy projects.

Vagit Alekperov, head of Russia's second-largest oil producer Lukoil, said in October that his company will sign two oilfield agreements with Iran in 2017.

Moscow and Tehran are also collaborating in an OPEC-led initiative to lift oil prices languishing below their 2014 peak levels.

Iran, the No. 3 producer at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, helped forge a historic deal in Vienna last month to lower the group's collective output to around 32.5 million barrels per day.

Non-member Russia repeatedly shattered its post-Soviet crude production record this year but has committed to scale back output by 300,000 bpd to help raise prices that have hurt all oil producers for nearly three years.


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