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September 2017, No. 85


News in Brief

Top Iran Business & Energy News
(June – August 2017)
 

ECONOMY & TRADE

No Obstacle to Chinese Finance for Iran Projects 

China’s ambassador to Iran said the channel for facilitating new finance from the world’s second largest economy is open for Tehran, assuring the Iranian business community that recent banking hurdles and the alleged closure of Iranian account are only temporary. “Chinese banks are commercial lenders and therefore the government cannot order them to do anything, but as we saw recently, two Chinese banks signed agreements with Iran to finance a number of projects, including the [electrification] of Tehran-Mashhad railroad,” Pang Sen was also quoted as saying during his meeting with senior trade officials in Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture August 12. 

Siraf Refining Deal to Be Finalized by March 

A preliminary agreement to develop Siraf Refining Park, a major downstream project in the city of Siraf in the southern Bushehr Province, will be finalized by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2018, managing director of Tamin Petroleum and Petrochemical Investment Company (TAPPICO) said (August 12). “Developing the Siraf project is a top priority for the National Petrochemical Company,” Mohammad Hassan Peyvandi was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency August 12. 

€3 bn Siemens Credit Line on the Way 

German industrial group Siemens is about to undertake financing rail and power plant projects worth 3 billion euros in Iran, a senior Iranian official says. “On a trip to Germany, we had discussions about Siemens’ participation in Iran’s railway and power plant projects,” Deputy Minister of Road and Urban Development for International Affairs Asghar Fakhriyeh-Kashan said (Aug. 8). In the rail sector, Iran is going to buy a number of wagons from Siemens for use on a high-speed line between Tehran, Qom and Isfahan, he said. Siemens will also cooperate on providing signaling equipment and installing communication signs. 

Iran to Roll out Mideast’s First Electric Cars 

Iran is to become the first Middle Eastern country to launch electric vehicles, with Mitsubishi Motors’ plug-in hybrid Outlander SUV expected to hit Iranian roads as early as fall. The Japanese automaker seeks to take advantage of burgeoning demand for environmentally friendly cars in the country where around 1 million cars are sold annually. Iran Khodro is the largest car manufacturer in the Middle East, but the serious problem of air pollution in Tehran and other big cities has prompted state planners to look for green vehicles. According to a report (August 8) on the website of the Nikkei business daily, the redesigned Outlander, which curbs use of the conventional engine in favor of the twin electric motors, will be built in Japan and shipped to Iran. 

Iran, Turkey, Qatar Mull Land Route amid Saudi Row 

Turkey seeks to establish a land route via Iran for trade with Qatar which has relied on both countries for sourcing food since a diplomatic crisis broke out with Saudi Arabia. Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci was in Tehran (August 5) where he was expected to discuss using Iran’s land route to facilitate trade with Qatar, Anadolu quoted him as saying. 

US Bans Fail to Hinder Iran’s Tech Advance 

Iran’s tech market continues to boom despite the US sanctions against the country, while the bans have merely restricted the global giants’ access to Iran’s lucrative tech market, a new report says. “US sanctions have protected the Islamic republic’s tech sector, barring Silicon Valley from profiting from one of the world’s most promising emerging markets, and giving a free run to domestic start-ups to recreate their services,” a report by AFP read (July 25). The report pointed to the emergence of local online services which are rapidly transforming different industries in Iran, including Snap taxi service as an equivalent to Uber, Digikala instead of Amazon and Pintapin as an alternative to Booking.com. 

Iran to Export 1mt of Wheat: Official 

Iran expects to export 1 million tons of surplus wheat and its products this year, up 60 percent from a year ago, the country’s trade regulator the Government Trading Company (GTC) says. GTC Managing Director Yazdan Seif (July 18) said the rise was “the result of the creation of necessary mechanisms and the increase in wheat production as well as guaranteed purchases of wheat, especially durum.” 

UK’s EasyHotel to Open 500 Rooms in Iran 

Budget chain easyHotel has announced plans to open branches in Iran, expecting a deal for 500 rooms. The London-based group says (July 28) its operations will be managed by a franchisee in Iran where local staff will run the facilities but easyHotel will not risk direct capital investment. The expansion plan is expected to include new purpose-built hotels and conversions of existing hotels or office buildings. 

Korean Retailer Seals Deal to Set Up Shop in Iran

A South Korean company has sealed a deal (July 15) to open convenience stores in Iran, putting further pressure on local businesses which are already feeling the heat from big retailers in neighboring countries and beyond. BGF Retail Co which owns South Korea’s largest convenience store chain, CU, has entrusted Iranian home appliances firm Entekhab Investment Development Group with taking charge of investment and operation of CU outlets in Iran. The deal marks CU’s first foray abroad, coming in the wake of hypermarkets and mass merchandisers from Turkey, the UAE, and Europe seeking to capitalize on a pent-up demand in the Iranian market following years of sanctions. 

Italy, Iran Sign $1.3 Billion High-Speed Rail Deal 

Iran’s state railway company and its Italian counterpart have signed (July 12) a deal worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) to build a high-speed rail line between Iranian cities of Arak and Qom. Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), and head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Saeed Mohammadzadeh oversaw the signing of the agreement in Tehran for the first stretch of a high-speed rail line which FS plans to build in Iran. 

Italy’s Eusider Signs Iran Ferrosilicon Deal 

Italy’s service center and trader company Eusider says it has signed a long-term agency agreement with the biggest ferrosilicon producer in Iran. The exclusive distribution agreement with Iran Ferroalloys Industries Company would give Eusider “the right space to market” Iranian ferroalloys, the company said. Through the agreement, “we will add value to our clients as we will be able to offer on regular basis different quality grade materials,” Platts quoted the company as saying (July 8). 

First Iran-Made Catamaran Delivered to Turkey 

Iran has completed its first export of a catamaran ship built in the country to Turkey, media reports said (July 8). The delivery puts Iran in the elite club of the manufacturers of catamaran, a multi-hulled watercraft featuring two parallel hulls of equal size. Hossein Qorbani, managing director of Iran’s Arvandan Shipbuilding Company which built the sailing boat, said the vessel sold at around 10 million US dollars. 

Iran Completing ‘Beauty Link’ in North-South Trade Corridor 

Iran is preparing to launch what could be the country’s most beautiful rail routes at the heart of a multimodal intercontinental transportation project. A railway at 205 kilometers from Qazvin to Rasht in northern Iran is near completion and could be among the last pieces of a rail link through which Russia would send its goods to India’s Mumbai several host countries including Iran. A report (June 28) by Iran’s IRNA news agency said the railway could increase the number of tourists visiting Iran’s northern province of Gilan. 

Germany Vows Wider Banking Links with Iran 

Germany has announced its readiness to expand its banking cooperation with Iran and provide funds for the country’s economic projects. The announcement was made (June 27) by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in a meeting with the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.  

Iran Sending 1,100 Tons of Food to Qatar Daily 

Iran says it is exporting over 1,100 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables from its southern ports to Qatar every day. The announcement was made (June 22) by Mohammad Mehdi Bonchari, the director of ports of Iran’s Bushehr province. Iran opened a food corridor with Qatar immediately after the start of the country’s diplomatic crisis. A week earlier, a top Iranian official said the country stands fully ready to answer the food requirements of Qatar much beyond its current needs. Abbas Maroufan, the deputy for domestic trade of the Government Trading Corporation of Iran, was quoted by media as saying that Iran could support the food requirements of “10 countries like Qatar”.

Iran Exports First Wheat Cargo in Years 

Iran says it has exported its first consignment of wheat after a hiatus of multiple years – what is seen as a robust sign that shows the country has not only been able to support domestic needs but also move ahead with overseas sales. The consignment of 35,000 tons of wheat was sent to Oman from Iran’s Bandar Imam Khomeini in Khuzestan province. It was taken to the Persian Gulf sultanate by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), the country’s IRNA reported (June 12). 

Austria OKs €1bn Credit Line for Iran Steel Project

Austria says it has allocated a credit line of €1 billion for a major steel production project in southern Iran. The announcement was made by the visiting Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling during a visit to Tehran (June 11).  

India Says Chabahar Plan on Track despite Odds 

India says (June 10) its development of the Iranian port of Chabahar as part of its ambitious bid to access Central Asia and Afghanistan is on track despite problems in procuring equipment from Western manufacturers. The Indian government has committed $500 million to Chabahar which lies on the Gulf of Oman, aiming to join an increasingly important transport corridor to the resource-rich regional countries.

ENERGY

Iran Port Gets First Oil Swap Cargo in 7 Years 

Oil and gas explorer Dragon Oil has shipped a cargo of oil from Turkmenistan to a port in northern Iran, apparently resuming a swap scheme which the Islamic Republic halted in 2010. The Russian-flagged VF Tanker-20 discharged around 6,000 tons of Turkmen origin crude oil at a terminal in the Caspian port of Neka on August 3, reports said (August 12). 

Iran, Turkey, Russia Sign Oil, Gas Investment Deal 

Iran, Russia and Turkey have signed (August 9) an agreement for joint investment in oil and gas development projects, the Shana news agency says. The agreement was signed in Moscow (August 9) between Iran’s Ghadir investment company, Russia’s Zarubezhneft oil and gas intermediary and Turkey’s Unit International, it said. Shana called it the first tripartite agreement of partnership and investment between Iranian and foreign companies, under which the parties will set up joint ventures to finance projects in and outside Iran. 

Iran Preparing to Award $15 bn in New Oil Deals 

Iran says it expects to attract as much as $15 billion in foreign investments into its oil and gas projects before next April. The announcement was made (August 6) by Gholam-Reza Manouchehri, the deputy director for development and engineering affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). 

South Korea’s SK Inks €1.6 Billion Iran Refinery Deal 

South Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction Co (SKEC) signed a heads of agreement (August 5) for a 1.6 billion euro upgrade of the Tabriz refinery in northwest Iran. South Korean National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, who was in Tehran to attend President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in, oversaw the signing between SKEC, Tabriz Oil Refining Company and National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Company (NIOEC).   

Shell Closer to Major Iranian Oil Awards 

Iran says it has received proposals from the global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell for the development of two major oil fields. Shana – the news agency of Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum – reported that Shell had (August 4) submitted the results of its feasibility studies over the fields – South Azadegan and Yadavaran - to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).  

Shell Submits Proposal for 2 Iran Oilfields 

Royal Dutch Shell (August 2) submitted a proposal to the Petroleum Engineering and Development Company for developing Azadegan and Yadavaran oilfields south of Iran. Representatives of the Anglo-Dutch major reportedly handed in the development plans in a meeting with Noureddine Shahnazizadeh, chief executive of PEDEC and a team of Iranian oil experts, in a meeting in Tehran (August 2). 

Iran Raises Estimates for Proven Oil, Gas Reserves 

Studies conducted by the National Iranian South Oil Company over the last four years show Iran’s recoverable crude oil reserves have increased by 4.4 billion barrels, the managing director of NISOC said. “Latest surveys on hydrocarbon fields also show that the country’s recoverable natural gas reserves have risen by 283 billion cubic meters, amounting to 34 trillion cubic meters,” Bijan Alipour was also quoted as saying by ISNA August 2. 

Iran’s Oil Exports to China to Reach Record Levels 

Speculations are rising that Iran’s oil exports to China would rise to the highest levels over the past 11 months in August. Reuters in a report (August 2) highlighted speculations that the rise in Iran’s exports to China would follow a recent decision by the Islamic Republic to cut the prices for its heavy crude oil. 

New Pipeline Cuts Iran’s Reliance on Turkmen Gas 

Iran has inaugurated a gas pipeline which officials say will dispense with supplies from neighboring Turkmenistan to northern Iranian provinces, especially in the winter when demand spirals out of control. The Damghan-Neka pipeline, the last segment of a trunkline which feeds gas from Iran’s giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf to the Mazandaran province in the Caspian Sea, was inaugurated by Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh (August 2). 

Iran Oil Exports Rise in July on Europe Shipments 

Iran’s oil exports rose by 45,000 barrels per day in July compared to the previous month, data released by the Ministry of Petroleum showed (August 1). 

Iran, Iraq Reach Deal over Kirkuk Pipeline 

Iran says it has reached an agreement with Iraq to construct a pipeline that would export crude oil from the northern Iraqi fields of Kirkuk via Iran. The announcement was made by Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh after a meeting with his visiting Iraqi counterpart Jabbar al-Luaibi (July 31). 

Gazprom, Iran’s OIEC Sign Deal over Oil Fields 

Russia’s Gazprom has signed a cooperation agreement with an Iranian company over the development of two major oil fields in western Iran. The agreement was signed (July 30) with the Oil Industries’ Engineering and Construction (OIEC). The target oil fields would be Azar and Changuleh, Iran’s most recent discoveries located in the western province of Lorestan.   

Shell Wants to Sell Iranian Jet Fuel in Persian Gulf 

Royal Dutch Shell is interested in selling Iran’s jet fuel in international markets, the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) has said (July 25). The company has held negotiations with Iranian officials, NIOPDC Managing Director Mansour Riahi said, adding if the talks yield positive results, Shell will be able to supply fuel not only at the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) but also in other areas. 

Eni Says Not Competing with Total in Iran 

Italy’s Eni is keeping its foot on the ground in Iran after major rival Total’s signing of a $5 billion gas deal with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) earlier this month. Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi says his company is not in a competition for presence in the Islamic Republic, having already clinched deals to develop the country’s Darkhovin oil and Kish gas fields. “We are happy that Total is in Iran. We are not competing to be the number one,” national daily business newspaper Italy Europe 24 quoted him as saying (July 22).​

Venezuela Replaces Iran as India’s Key Oil Supplier 

The latest shipping figures show India’s purchases of crude oil from Iran in June dropped drastically but instead increased significantly from Venezuela as well as Iraq and Egypt. Figures released by Reuters (July 21) showed imports by India’s Essar refiner from Iran in June stood at 122,000 barrels per day (bpd), down 32 percent from May when purchases were an average of 180,000 bpd.  

Russians Set Record with Iran Oil Deal 

The National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) and Russia’s Zarubezhneft have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop two oil fields in southwest Iran. The agreement signed in Tehran (July 18) allows the state-run Russian company to conduct technical surveys on Shadegan and Rag Sefid fields in Khuzestan Province. 

Iran Eying 10 Oil, Gas Deals by March 

The government hopes to sign 10 major oil and gas deals by the end of its fiscal year (March 20, 2018) after concluding a landmark deal with French energy firm Total to develop a gas project in the Persian Gulf. “We are keen to accelerate the development of Iran’s petroleum industry and plan to sign 10 more deals by the yearend,” Gholamreza Manouchehri, deputy chief of the National Iranian Oil Company, said in a news conference (July 16). 

Iran’s IDRO Plans to Develop Major Oil Field 

Iran’s IDRO Group says it plans to develop the Susangerd oil field in the country’s southwest in partnership with a reputable international company. IDRO received a permit from the Ministry of Petroleum for carrying out studies on the field in May, its Managing Director Mansour Moazzami told Fars news agency (July 15). 

Japanese, Korean Firms to Fund Siraf Refineries 

A consortium of South Korean and Japanese companies has signed agreements to fund and implement a chain of condensate refining projects in southern Iran – a project known as the Octopus of the Persian Gulf. The agreements were signed between South Korea’s Daelim and Hyundai as well as Japan’s Chioda – all partners in the project to construct Siraf refineries in Iran’s southern province of Bushehr (July 14). 

Intl. Firms Negotiate $200 bn Worth of Oil Deals with Iran 

Asian and European companies are negotiating participation in Iran’s oil and gas development projects which need $200 billion worth of investment, according to Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh (July 12). Iran looks to absorb 65% to 70% of this sum from abroad, the minister told Iran’s Parliament where he was to answer questions about a $5 billion gas deal signed with French giant Total earlier this month. 

Iran Says Europe Not on Agenda of Gas Exports 

Iran says it has removed an old plan to export natural gas to Europe and is instead focusing on exports to its neighbors as well as India. Amirhossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy minister of petroleum for trade and international affairs, said (July 7) Europe’s gas market was already saturated with excessive supplies and had thus lost its priority in Iran’s gas export plans.  

Total Seals Iran’s Biggest Gas Deal in Years 

French energy giant Total signed (July 3) a multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran, the first by a foreign firm in more than a decade. Based on the deal, Total would invest an initial $1 billion in the development of Phase 11 of South Pars offshore gas field. 

Iranian Gas Boosts Iraq in Saudi Market War 

Iran’s exports of gas to Iraq which began in July are set to free up more oil for exports by the Arab country, clipping Saudi Arabia’s wings further in its bid to retain markets. Iraq along with Saudi Arabia jumped on the occasion from the West’s unprecedented sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2011 to ramp up their oil production in the absence of the Islamic Republic. 

Iran to Sign Deal with Eni over Kish, Darkhovin 

Iran’s media are reporting that Italy’s oil and gas giant Eni is preparing to sign a basic agreement to study two Iranian oil and gas fields. Iran’s English-language newspaper The Financial Tribune reported that the agreement – a memorandum of understanding – would be signed between Eni and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) on June 19.  

Iran Sees Strategic Gains in Total Deal 

As Iran is preparing to sign a much-delayed deal with the French energy giant Total over the development of a major gas project, indications are growing that Tehran is already looking at the political messages that the deal could send to the world. The Persian-language newspaper Jahan-e Eqtesad in a report (June 18) said the cooperation between Iran and Total over the development of Phase 11 of the country’s huge South Pars gas field would act as “a solid seal of approval” for other international companies that they can also set foot in Iran’s energy projects without fears of any punitive measures. 

Iran Still World’s Biggest Natural Gas Player 

A new report (June 16) shows Iran still has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas and is closely followed by market rivals Russia and then Qatar. The global energy giant British Petroleum (BP) in its annual report on world energy reserves put Iran’s natural gas reserves at 33.5 trillion cubic meters (tcm).

Iran New Refinery’s 1st Fuel Batch Ready 

Iran says the first consignment of high-quality gasoline produced from its newly-launched Persian Gulf Start Refinery is ready for nationwide distribution. Abbas Kazemi, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Products Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC), was quoted by media as saying that the consignment comprised 21 million liters of gasoline (August 14). 

Iran Reclaims Ground Lost to Saudis in Europe 

Iran’s hard-fought mission to recoup its oil market share in the West is almost complete after exports in May came within a whisker of pre-sanction levels. Exports to Europe in the month surged to their highest level since the lifting of sanctions in early 2016 to 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), Reuters news agency reported, citing sources familiar with Iran’s oil exports (June 10).

 

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  September 2017
No. 85