Iran confident of regaining oil market share once US sanctions lifted: oil minister

Iran is confident of regaining its pre-sanctions oil market share, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said Jan. 22, as it pins its hopes on the new US administration lifting sanctions.

“I am not worried about our exports market. Absolutely not,” Zanganeh said about whether its lost share could be revived given current market fundamentals and the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“I think if the sanctions are lifted, the market itself approaches us. And those who buy oil always seek to diversify their suppliers. They don’t want to restrict themselves to one or two particular sellers,” Zanganeh said in a press briefing after visiting Tehran’s oil exhibition.

“The market is very big. We are now more powerful and capable than the past in terms of marketing, transfer of money, receiving money and entering the market,” he said. “If the sanctions are lifted, we will enter the market hopefully… in such a condition.”

Asked about a recent statement by the central bank that Iran’s oil sales and access to the money have improved, Zanganeh responded: “Dramatically.”

Zanganeh stayed tight-lipped about the country’s oil figures.

In an opening speech at the show, Zanganeh said Iran had achieved record oil product exports “under the toughest of sanctions.”

However, he pointed out that there have been issues with a lack of investment.

“In the past two, three years we have experienced a lack of Investments that stalled many projects. But we moved forward,” the oil minister said.

On the sidelines of the oil exhibition, Amirhossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs, said Iran could restore its pre-sanctions production capacity within a month or two as OPEC would accommodate its oil.

“It was close to 4 million barrels, 3.9 million and something… naturally for Iran there is a consideration [within OPEC] because of these sanctions so that it can catch up and get to the pre-sanctions [production] level,” said Zamaninia, who is also Iran’s OPEC governor.

Raising production capacity
The Iranian government is eying exports of 2.3 million b/d of crude in its next year that starts March 21.

“The last experience showed that they [OPEC] make room for Iran’s maximum production capacity,” Zamaninia said when asked about a recovery of oil exports and production capacity. “As it was done last time, we expect the same this time too… It will certainly be a significant challenge but we will do our best and we hope to reach this point within a month or two.”

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Zamaninia confirmed that Iran has already increased production when asked.

Asian and European companies, he said, have started making contact with Iran ahead of the possible removal of sanctions that isolated the country’s energy industry.

“Well, for some weeks we have had contacts expressing readiness. Europeans, Asians, but no American companies. These contacts were over upstream [projects] and purchase of equipment,” Zamaninia said.

Zamaninia said oil product exports sales included gasoline, jet fuel, mazurka, gasoil and fuel oil.

“Under the Obama administration, exports of gasoline were sanctioned. But we are the biggest gasoline exporter of the region. We export everywhere, both within region, East Asia and Venezuela too,” he said.

Zamaninia said Iran has also been holding talks over an unspecified oil-for-vaccine deal, but did not provide further details.

While hopes are pinned on the Biden administration opening ways for international investors and contractors into the underdeveloped industry, Iran’s oil exhibition has seen no foreign participation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers said.

The event is held every year in the spring but was postponed because of the pandemic. Some 550 Iranian GC, EPC, and E&P companies have taken part in the four-day event.
Credit: Platts

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