Iran has named 29 companies from more than a dozen countries as being allowed to bid for oil and gas projects using the new, less restrictive Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) model, the oil ministry news website SHANA reported yesterday (2 January).
The list of pre-qualified firms included Shell, France’s Total, Italy’s Eni, Malaysia’s Petronas and Russia’s Gazprom and Lukoil, as well as companies from China, Austria, Japan and other countries.
Iran hopes its new IPC, part of an effort to sweeten the terms it offers on oil development deals, will attract foreign investors and boost production after years of sanctions.
The list did not include oil major BP. The Financial Times said BP had opted out of the bidding because of concerns over possible renewed US-Iran tensions after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on 20 January.
Trump has said he will scrap the deal between Iran and world powers that imposed curbs on Tehran’s nuclear projects and lifted sanctions on the Iranian economy last January.
The state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed the first oil output contract under the IPC model in October with an Iranian firm identified by the United States as part of a conglomerate controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The IPC model has been delayed several times due to opposition from hardline rivals of President Hassan Rouhani. It ends a buy-back system dating back more than 20 years under which Iran did not allow foreign firms to book reserves or take equity stakes in Iranian companies.
The new IPC has more flexible terms that take into account oil price fluctuations and investment risks, a senior Iranian oil official told Reuters in November.
Oil majors have said they would only go back to Iran if it makes major changes to the buy-back contracts, which companies such as France’s Total or Italy’s Eni said made them no money or even incurred losses.