Aug. 28 (UPI) -- After no developments last year, Iran is concluding the financial aspects of a handful of deals with foreign oil and gas companies, its energy minister said.
In January, the Iranian Oil Ministry published a list of 29 foreign oil and gas companies qualified to take part in any upcoming tenders for exploration and production. Royal Dutch Shell was among the first to buy oil from Iran after verification of a multilateral nuclear deal. Later, French energy company Total, China National Petroleum Corp. and Petropars Ltd., a subsidiary of the state-run National Iranian Oil Co., signed a 20-year contract to help develop parts of the giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said the government was in "serious" talks with both domestic and international companies on signing off on as many as 10 oil and natural gas deals by the end of the Iranian calendar year, which would be March 10. German energy company Wintershall is among those considering developments for as many as three projects in Iran.
"This is while last year this time we had not made such progress in the talks," he was quoted by the Oil Ministry's news website SHANA as saying.
The German company said in response to emailed questions that it was closely following developments in the region.
"In order to prepare for possible further activities in the region Wintershall signed a memorandum of understanding last year with the National Iranian Oil Co. about a potential future cooperation," it said. "Details of the memorandum are subject to confidentiality."
Russia is also in negotiations to buy around 100,000 barrels of oil per day from Iran. A deputy minister for international affairs in Iran said the contract with Russia will enter into force as early as September.
Earlier this month, Zanganeh was confirmed for a second term in office as the oil minister for a country that has the third largest oil reserves in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Isolated in part by sanctions, the country has seen some economic doors open in response to a multilateral agreement that brought sanctions relief in exchange for stepping back from its nuclear research program.