April 10 (UPI) -- Iran expects more, not less, foreign investments in its oil and natural gas sector because of fewer sanctions restrictions, the oil minister said.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said foreign companies will invest in the nation's energy sector to the fullest extent of the law. Few outside companies are working closely with Iran, though the minister said he doesn't expect investments to wane.
"If we are told that cooperation with a certain company is banned based on the law, we would follow suit, but this must first become ascertained for us before we stop our interactions with them," he was quoted by SHANA, the ministry's official news agency, as saying.
The National Iranian Oil Co. in December said it expected to award roughly a dozen new agreements for oil and gas developments as the appetite grows for working in Iran's oil and gas sector. By January, Zangeneh's ministry published a list of 29 foreign oil and gas companies that are qualified to take part in any upcoming tenders for exploration and production.
European companies like OMV and French supermajor Total waded into the Iranian energy sector early by signing agreements last year. Royal Dutch Shell, meanwhile, was one of the first companies to buy Iranian crude oil in the post-sanctions era and, last month, a tanker carrying 600,000 barrels of Iranian oil arrived in southern Ukraine for deliveries to the market in Belarus.
Directors with the National Iranian Oil Co. said last week that more foreign direct investments would be needed in order to develop oil fields in the Caspian Sea.
Iran secured sanctions relief under the terms of a multilateral agreement that calls on Tehran to scale back its nuclear ambitions. That agreement is intact even as U.S. President Donald Trump takes a more assertive stance on foreign policy. Last month, the U.S. State Department designated an individual as a terrorist because of Tehran's support for a militant group active in Bahrain.