LONDON – Iran has postponed a crucial conference to present new oil contracts to investors in London to February 2016 from December 2015 as industry sources said Tehran was still waiting for Western sanctions to be lifted.
The global oil industry has been eagerly watching Tehran’s plans for the conference as Iran, OPEC’s third largest oil producer, holds the world’s fourth largest oil reserves and the largest for natural gas.
Under a deal reached with six major powers in July, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for an end to economic sanctions imposed on the country over its disputed nuclear work.
The sanctions imposed on Iran in 2012 have choked Tehran’s oil production. Output is down a million barrels per day (bpd) since the start of 2012 at 2.7 million bpd, depriving it of billions of dollars in oil revenue.
The conference has been already postponed four times, including the current delay, because of uncertainty over sanctions and as Iranian officials are still working on the model for new contracts.
Oil majors have said they would go back to Iran if it made a major improvement to the so-called buy-back contracts of the 1990s, which companies like France’s Total or Italy’s Eni said made them no money or even incurred losses.
Iran has said the new contracts would be a major improvement not only on the old buy-backs but also on the contracts rival and neighbor Iraq offered to oil majors during 2000s.
The details of the new contracts have yet to emerge. Iran says it needs foreign know-how and technology to help develop new oil fields and improve pipeline and refinery infrastructure.
More could emerge when Iran holds a conference in Tehran, where new oil contracts could be unveiled, according to Deputy Oil Minister Roknoddin Javadi quoted last week by Iranian media.
The new dates for the London conference have been tentatively set for February 22-24, the organizers said on the web site.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Ron Bousso; editing by David Clarke and William Hardy)
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