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Iran anticipates arrival of European energy representatives

Austrian energy company OMV could be next in a string of companies knocking on Iran's door.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Iran anticipates arrival of European energy representatives
Representatives from Austrian company OMV are slated to meet with deputy trade officials in Tehran, Iran during the weekend to review the potential for natural gas exports to Europe. Pictured, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh speaks at the Tehran Summit in Tehran, November 28, 2015. Dozens of companies from some 45 countries participated in the summit, aimed to market Iran's petroleum and gas reserves. Photo by ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/European Pressphoto Agency

TEHRAN, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Iranian media reported Wednesday a delegation from Austrian energy company OMV is en route to Tehran to explore stronger energy ties with the Islamic republic.

"An energy committee between Iran and Austria is being held in order for the two countries to assess the road map to mutual cooperation in energy and economic fields," the oil ministry's news website SHANA reported.

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OMV was among the first to sign agreements with Iran this year in a step toward resuming formal operations in the oil- and gas-rich member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Sanctions pressures on Iran started easing in January after the United Nations confirmed compliance with a multilateral nuclear agreement brokered last year. European sanctions are easing faster than those enacted by the United States, though some sanctions that remain in place make it difficult to do business with Iran.

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SHANA reports OMV representatives are slated to meet with deputy trade officials in Tehran during the weekend to review the potential for natural gas exports to Europe.

Iran has offered its natural gas to a European market working to break Russia's hold over the energy sector. Russia supplies about a quarter of Europe's gas, though much of that runs through Ukraine, where regional conflicts have created risks to energy security.

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The reported arrival of OMV follows a string of agreements signed between Iran and European energy companies. SHANA reported that Royal Dutch Shell signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Co. to develop some of the oil fields near the border with Iraq.

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Iran has been opening its economic doors to potential investors after so-called Implementation Day, when the country was verified as meeting the terms of a U.N.-backed nuclear agreement, passed in January. It's the only member of OPEC that has room for production growth under the terms of an agreement reached last week in Vienna.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this week there were few limits standing in the way of the country's energy sector performance.

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