Iran is negotiating $80 billion of oil deals for signing, some of which are expected to be finalized no later than the next three months, two senior officials said in Tehran on Saturday.
Top negotiator Abbas Araqchi shrugged off concerns about the new US president’s commitment to a landmark nuclear accord with Iran, which has been hampering foreign investors from clinching deals with Tehran.
President Donald Trump has denounced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is called, as “the worst deal ever negotiated,” pledging during his election campaign to tear it up.
Araqchi said, "If Trump rips up the JCPOA, he will have to suffer the costs. In that case, we will have to move cleverly and dexterously so that the costs don’t befall us."
The official, who is also Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said Trump was currently examining the accord but there were signs that he would stick with it.
“At the moment, the consensus is against Trump and he has no other choice than extending the JCPOA,” Araqchi said.
The official, however, said delays in the conclusion of Iranian oil and gas deals are related to internal bickering over a new oil contract which has still to see the light of the day.
“At present, $80 billion of contracts are being negotiated and the delay is due to the fact that there has to be national consensus over the IPC (Iran Petroleum Contract),” Araqchi said.
Deputy Minister of Petroleum Amir Hossein Zamaninia said 25 MoUs have been signed with international oil companies so far, adding they would be finalized starting from the Iranian month of Khordad on May 22.
“The value of the MoUs which are still being negotiated will be $80-85 billion if they are turned into contracts,” he said.
Over the past year since the implementation of the JCPOA, Iran has won back its oil customers and raised production to the levels before sanctions were imposed on the country.
Zamaninia said Iran has boosted its oil and condensate exports to more than 2.63 million barrels per day, adding the country earned about $34 billion from the exports in the current Persian year which ends on March 20.
Among major oil firms, France’s Total has pledged about $5 billion of investment in Iran, but the company awaits US green light to implement it, he added.
“We understand it. Total has spent about $20 million in Iran in recent months and is preparing its plans,” Zamaninia said.
Meanwhile, Araqchi hailed the nuclear agreement, saying it had served its purpose.
“The JCPOA has cleared all the obstacles which were on the way of Iran’s economy, and allowed the economy to move forward. However, we don’t claim there are no non-JCPOA obstacles,” he said.
“Having oil production and exports restored to their previous state within a year was a masterpiece,” he added.