Iran will launch new contracts to develop oil and natural gas fields in mid-February in the country's first such tender since the lifting of international sanctions a year ago, while U.S. firms will not be banned, Iranians official said.
"The plan was to hold the first tender at the end of January, but it will be held with 15 days of delay on February 15," Ali Kardor, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency about oil and gas contracts.
"Twenty-nine companies have been qualified, but we would like to add more companies to the list," he added.
OPEC's No. 3 oil producer hopes its new Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPCs), which are part of efforts to sweeten the terms offered on oil development deals, will draw foreign companies and boost output after years of under-investment.
The first new-style tender has been postponed several times for unspecified reasons but foreign firms have signed some initial deals to explore and develop Iran’s oil and gas reserves.
In November, France’s Total has signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with NIOC for the development of phase 11 of South Pars, while Norwegian oil and gas operator DNO ASA, signed a deal to conduct a study for the development of the Changuleh oil field in western Iran.
Shell signed a provisional deal in December to develop Iranian oil and gas fields South Azadegan, Yadavaran and Kish in December. Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said however that Shell has no near-term investment opportunities in Iran.
On Monday, Iran’s deputy oil minister said the country does not impose any restrictions on U.S. oil firms willing to participate in energy projects, but their sanctions against Iran make such cooperation impossible.
"Iran has not imposed any restrictions on the U.S. companies, but they cannot participate in our (oil and gas) tenders due to the U.S. laws," Amir Hossein Zamaninia, deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
Based on the U.S. Congress sanctions, the American oil companies cannot work in Iran," he added.
The new U.S. administration on Friday imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, which it said were just "initial steps" and said Washington would no longer turn a "blind eye" to Iran's hostile actions.
Iranian oil officials have said they are not worried that President Donald Trump's tough stance against Tehran will affect foreign investment in the energy sector.
Dismissing the new sanctions, Zamaninia said "such actions have had no effect, and international companies are still keen to do business with Iran."