Iran opening energy doors for Europe

CEO of German energy company Siemens in Tehran as sanctions pressures ease.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 22, 2016 at 7:36 AM
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TEHRAN, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Iran said Monday it expected to renew an energy relationship with German company Siemens, which was suspected of Internet sabotage in 2010.

Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser met in Tehran with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, who said he was eager to embrace the new post-sanctions era with the German engineering company.

"We hope a new chapter will open in cooperation between Iran and Siemens during the post-sanction [period]," the oil minister was quoted as saying by SHANA, the ministry's news website.

Zangeneh said the German energy company could provide compressors and other machinery to the Iranian gas sector with sanctions pressures easing for European companies. The minister said Siemens had blocked delivery of components for Iran's giant offshore South Pars gas complex as a result of sanctions imposed in response to Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Siemens was a major player in the Iranian gas sector, though the relationship soured in 2010 when Iran suspected the German company of working with its U.S. and Israeli adversaries on the Stuxnet virus.

The computer virus Stuxnet infected the computers systems at Iranian nuclear installations in 2010. The virus was tied to a Siemens product, though the company denied it was involved.

Iran has reached out to restore ties with European energy companies eager to return to an opening oil and gas sector. Last week, Royal Dutch Shell, one of the largest energy companies in the world, said it starting paying back a multi-billion dollar debt to the state-run National Iranian Oil Co. The debt was incurred because reimbursement opportunities were blocked by sanctions, Iran's Press TV reported.

Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Buerden said in early February the company was eager to settle its debt to Iran as soon as legal mechanisms permit. At the time, the CEO said it was still too early to make any firm commitments in Iran.

"We need to take a view on, of course, general country risk, as we do with every other country," he said.

Existing U.S. sanctions restrict financial channels for work with Iran.

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