Iran says Italy’s energy giant Eni has started to purchase crude oil from the country – a move that could lead to a re-establishment of relations between the two sides after the removal of sanctions.
A top official from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was quoted by media as saying that Eni’s purchase of Iran’s oil was in line with a short-term contract signed between both sides.
"The NIOC has sold one cargo of crude oil to this Italian company," Mohsen Qamsari, the company’s director for international affairs, was quoted by Shana and Reuters as saying. Qamsari added that negotiations were underway to sign a long term deal.
"If the deal is signed we are ready to sell 100,000 barrels of crude oil to Eni," the official added.
Eni was one of the main buyers of Iranian oil prior to the sanctions, which were lifted in January. It had also invested in several oil and gas projects in Iran including the development of South Pars Phases 4 and 5 as well as Darkhovin, Doroud and Balal oil fields.
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh had earlier named the Italian major – as well as several other global energy giants such as Total, BP, Shell – as the companies he said he wanted to see back in Iran.
Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi said in November that his company had serious plans to return to Iran’s oil industry.
Descalzi emphasized that his company would start working again in Iran when it has been repaid investments previously made and when it understands the type of contracts Teheran will be offering.