May 26 (UPI) -- Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom may be eager to establish closer ties in the opening Iranian energy sector, Russian media reported.
Russian news agency Tass reported that Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh met on the sidelines of a conference steered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller. According to the report, Miller was mum on the details of the conversation.
Iran is looking to regain a market share lost to sanctions enacted in response to its foreign policy stance in the region and lingering issues related to its nuclear research program. An OPEC member, it's one of the few producers in the group with room to grow under a multilateral agreement to limit output in order to balance the market.
The Iranian oil minister was working the sidelines from Vienna, talking earlier this week with Patrick Pouyanne, the chairman and chief executive officer of French energy company Total. The French supermajor in November signed a head of agreement deal with the National Iranian Oil Co. to help develop phase 11 of the South Pars natural gas complex in the Persian Gulf, the largest of its kind in the world.
Gazprom, for its part, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Co. during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to Moscow in March. Both sides agreed to "examine avenues for cooperation" on exploration and production in Iran.
Boasting that it's a result of a multilateral nuclear deal enacted last year, OPEC-member Iran said its trade volume with oil-rich Russia could pass the $10 billion mark.
Iranian trade representatives raised the possibility of oil swaps and refinery construction during a visit to Moscow in late 2014, an issue Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in February was still under consideration.
A report earlier this week from Russian news agency Tass said an oil-for-food swap between Iran and Russia "is done."