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The National Iranian Oil Company has issued a list of 29 companies that have qualified for bidding in oil and gas tenders, of whom only one is a U.S. player, Schlumberger.
The biggest European producers, including Shell, Eni, Total, and OMV have all qualified but BP has pulled out from the race because of worry that relations between Iran and the U.S. will get heated once Donald Trump takes office later this month, according to the Financial Times.
Among those that qualified were China’s Sinopec, CNPC, CNOOC, and CNPW, as well as the state-owned oil companies of Indonesia and Malaysia – Pertamina and Petronas – plus Japan’s INPEX Corporation, Itochu, Mitsui, and Mitsubishi, and Japan Petroleum Corporation.
Russian Gazprom and Lukoil were also among those qualified for the tenders, as were Danish Maersk, Indian ONGC, and Polish PGNiG.
The domination of Chinese and Japanese companies on the list is understandable, as is the reluctance of U.S. energy companies to participate in Iranian oil and gas tenders. During his colorful election campaign, Donald Trump slammed the deal reached by Western powers and Iran on its nuclear program, which led to the lifting of most sanctions against it. The President-elect has also threatened to revoke the deal as soon as he takes office.
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Iran, meanwhile, is eager to get its oil and gas industry back on its feet and has already struck deals with Lukoil, Total, CNPC and Sinopec, and Petronas for the development of oil and gas fields. Total is working on the huge offshore South Pars field; Petronas is drilling for oil at South Azadegan and Sheshmeh Hosh; and CNPC and Sinopec are developing Yadavaran and North Azadegan.
Tehran’s leanings east and north could be seen as a safeguard against new sanctions coming from the West, in case Trump gets his way, which is by no means a certainty, especially in light of a recent appeal from top U.S. scientists to the President-elect to keep the deal as it is, arguing it is a deterrent to any further attempts by Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.