German company says sanctions opened Iranian energy doors

Industry equipment company says foundation set just days before what could be a pivotal presidential election in Iran.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   May 17, 2017 at 6:34 AM

May 17 (UPI) -- A German industrial equipment company said it was set firmly in the Iranian oil and gas sector because of the easing of economic sanctions.

Iran secured relief from some economic sanctions after implementation with a multilateral nuclear deal was confirmed in January 2016. A report this week from RBC Capital Markets found consumption of Iranian oil from key markets like the European Union, China and India are near the levels they were before tighter sanctions were enacted in 2011.

According to the Iranian Oil Ministry's official news site, Shana, German industrial equipment company Lewa has established a solid footing in post-sanctions Iran. Joachim Bund, the head of the company's sales division, told the news agency sanctions relief had opened the door to European companies.

"The pumps are in place and are installed," he was quoted as saying. "And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh were involved in inauguration of the projects which were run by our pumps."

European sanctions offer some maneuvering in Iran, though financial transactions are complicated by remaining U.S. sanctions. The Austrian envoy to Tehran said this week his government was hopeful that banking and trade relations with Iran would normalize in the near future.

Iranians head to the polls this week for a presidential vote. Incumbent Rouhani is facing a challenge from conservative cleric Ibrahim Raisi, who has tacit support for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

A win by Raisi could escalate tensions with the West given Washington's more assertive foreign policy initiatives under President Donald Trump. Ole Hanson, the head of commodity strategy at SaxoBank, told UPI an Iran under Raisi may be less market friendly

"Considering the gap between the two candidates the outcome of the election has the potential for impacting the geopolitical situation and thereby also the price of oil," he said.

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