Multinationals stream in to Tehran to grab slice of Iranian oil rush

Iranian oil: Ever since it became clear late last year that the world powers were ready to relieve Iran of its economic sanctions, a steady stream of politicians high-ranking multinational executives has quietly been trickling into Tehran, intent on re-establishing old ties and forging new ones. High ranking representatives from the oil industry have been at the front of the queue including delegations from BP, Shell, Eni, Lukoil and Total, as well as from major contractors to the sector such as Saipem and Matsui. Iran is back in business, and it seems everyone wants a piece of the action.
This eagerness to bring a new source of hydrocarbons onto a market reeling under the effects of the lowest prices in over a decade highlights the paradox that lies at the heart of the relationship between the oil industry and today’s globalised economy. With the price of a barrel of crude at its lowest for over a decade, Iran’s rehabilitation into the world’s energy markets is, to put it mildly, a mixed blessing. 
While net importers such as India, Pakistan and several East African countries have been enjoying their strongest ever GDP growth, those countries whose GDPs rely on oil exports have been having a miserable time. Brazil is going through its worse recession for 30 years; Nigeria and Azerbaijan have both been obliged to go cap in hand to the IMF; and Russia has been flirting with a fire sale of some of its state-run enterprises, including Rosneft. It is a similar tale on the corporate front. While a sustained period of low oil prices can only be good news for most companies  both BP and Shell have reported dramatic losses in earnings for 2015 of 51% and 44% respectively.
But – in the whacky world of hydrocarbons, at least – what goes down must eventually come up again, and the history of oil prices has been littered with wild fluctuations ever since the original crisis of 1973. One of these, pertinently, occurred after Iran’s 1979 revolution when Ayatollah Khomeini decided to expel the majority of foreign oil technicians, bringing production to a virtual standstill.The Iran-Iraq war followed shortly afterwards and, although several oil majors returned to the country in the mid 1980s, Iran’s oil industry has never really fully recovered. Which is why those Western men in suits have been welcomed with open arms when they turned up in Tehran, because the Iranian government is in desperate need of Western expertise to boost production in its existing portfolio of ageing fields and to upgrade its creaking infrastructure. And its money; $200bn in all, according to Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh who earlier this week estimated  $130bn and $70b  was required to  needed modernise Iran’s  upstream and downstream sectors respectively. 
Having set itself a target of increasing output by 50% over the next five years, there could be as many as 50 projects put up for grabs, ranging from the exploration and development of new fields and the country’s petrochemical sector, to the provision of new technology. Tehran is said to be particularly keen to bring in a foreign oil company to construct an LNG plant for the South Pars field and is also widely known to need help to develop this and North Pars as well as other major fields at Alvaz, Gachsaran, Marun and Aghajari.