By Sara Rajabova
The multinational oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell plans to repay its debt to Iran. The company fell into arrears on the back of imposed banking sanctions against Tehran.
Royal Dutch Shell said it is discussing repayment of an outstanding debt to Iran of $2.3 billion as the energy giant eyes new opportunities in the country.
Shell’s Chief Executive, Ben van Beurden met with Iran’s Minister of Petroleum, Bijan Zangeneh on the sidelines of an OPEC seminar in Vienna to "give assurances that payments will be made as soon as they can be made”, Press TV reported.
The British government prevented Shell in 2013 from repaying the debt which it owed for the crude oil it bought from the National Iranian Oil Company.
Shell was reported at the time to be trying to pay the debt in kind with grains or pharmaceutical products since they are not barred under U.S. and European sanctions. However, the UK government blocked the process, preventing any settlement to take place.
Beurden said after the meeting with Zangeneh that the debt will be repaid after all U.S. and European sanctions on Iran are lifted.
He made the announcement as he said the Anglo-Dutch energy company was looking at “opportunities” in Iran, which is nearing the final stretch of nuclear talks with the P5+1 group, amid hopes of an agreement.
Following Lausanne framework agreement in early April between world powers and Iran, Royal Dutch Shell reportedly resumed talks with Iran in view of the company's return.
Iranian media reported that the company was once again mulling over investment opportunities in Iran provisioning sanctions against the country over its nuclear program will be lifted.
Leaders of several energy companies: Lukoil, Total, BP, ConocoPhillips and others which have actively sought to return to the Iranian market have met with the Iranian petroleum minister in Vienna.
Total CEO, Patrick Pouyanne reportedly met the Iranian minister. BP CEO, Bob Dudley told Press TV the London-based company “would be very much interested in investing in Iran”.
Even U.S. oil companies are not concealing their interest. ConocoPhillips Chief, Ryan Lance said his company is interested in opportunities in Iran.
Meanwhile, Zangeneh outlined Iran’s new form of contracts for projects which he believed will be “more attractive for investors”.
Bijan Zanganeh says Iran's return to global oil market will be gradual once international sanctions against the country are lifted.
He said Iran will pump half a million barrels per day “immediately or one month” after sanctions are lifted and reach one million bpd after six or seven months.
Iran holds the world's fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves. Iran’s total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Heavy and extra-heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.
Iran, which produced more than 4 million barrels a day in 2008, lost its market share to other producers amid sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear energy program. Sanctions have cut Iran's oil exports to about 1.1 million barrels per day from 2.5 million bpd in 2012.
The OPEC nation is keeping about 30 million barrels of crude on a fleet of tankers ready to be shipped when allowed, into a market already flooded with supply.