Concerns over Trump hard-line policy prompt BP to step back from Iran

Less than two months after deciding to exclude its US national CEO Bob Dudley from its attempts to capitalise on the potential of the Iranian oil industry, doubts over the policies that  incoming President Donald Trump’s administration will adopt towards the Islamic Republic has prompted energy giant BP to stand back altogether, leaving the field open to its two biggest European rivals Royal Dutch Shell and Total.
With around 40% of its shareholders and 30% of its employers  (including Dudley) being American, the UK-based company is acutely aware that US sanctions against Iran are still in place and more nervous than its competitors about the prospects of Trump taking a hardline stance against Tehran, which he has already threatened to do.
Immediately after the presidential elections in November, BP announced that it had formed a special task force to explore opportunities in Iran, but that it would be headed up by the UK-born CFO Brian Gilvary rather than Dudley. It now transpires that it has not applied to take part in a forthcoming tender of exploration and production rights in Iran, which has the world’s second-largest gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves – but urgently needs outside capital and expertise to an estimated tune of $200bn to modernise its ageing infrastructure.
In November, France’s Total became the first western oil major to make a renewed commitment to Iran  when it signed a deal in conjunction with the China National Petroleum Corp to develop the next phase of Iran’s giant South Pars gas field. UK-listed Shell followed earlier last month with a more tentative agreement for studies of the Azadegan and Yadavaran oilfields in south-west Iran as well as the Kish gasfields in the Gulf. Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil (Russia), ONGC (India) and DNO (Norway) have all also struck agreements with Tehran, which claims that dozens more companies have  applied to take part in a licensing round for up to 50 exploration and production blocs due to take place early in 2017.

Source: FT