May 30 (UPI) -- By July, Iran could sign off on its first post-sanctions contract tied to the development of one of its largest oil fields, the country's oil minister said.
A report from Shana, the official news agency of the Iranian Oil Ministry, stated that Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh "will hopefully" sign the first oil deal developed under post-sanctions contractual terms before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's first term ends in July.
The contract would be tied to the Azadegan oil field, one of Iran's largest, and "the invitation to tender for development ... has started already," the report read.
According to Tehran, the border Azadegan complex holds around 6 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves.
China National Petroleum Corp was contracted to help develop the Azadegan field, which straddles the border with Iraq. The Iranian side, however, complained about the lack of the deployment of drilling rigs from China and the CNPC contract for development was later torn up because the company wasn't meeting Iran's expectations.
Iran is working to regain a market share lost to sanctions tied to its nuclear research program and to its regional stance on foreign policy. Under Rouhani's tenure, Iran has drawn investment interest from European oil and gas companies, though further capital streams are needed. In 2015, before sanctions relief emerged, Chatham House reported that Iran was in "severe need" of technology and capital that could emerge from a stronger relationship with international oil and gas companies.
Rouhani beat out a challenge from conservative rival Ibrahim Raisi to secure a second term in office. RBC Capital Markets reported recently that a Rouhani victor "would almost certainly" open the Iranian energy sector up to foreign investments.
The country's oil minister was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying that "in some cases" talks with international energy companies have already "resulted in signing of memorandums of understanding or agreements-in-principle."
The Chatham House report found Iranian officials tend to hype the level of interest.