Iran says US oil firms are welcome

Feb 24, 2004 01:00 AM

Iran says it has no objections to US companies interested in investing in its oil and gas sector, currently blocked because of US sanctions designed to block foreign investment in the Islamic republic's petroleum industry.
"There is no obstacle for American companies to work in Iran's oil and gas industry," Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian was quoted as saying. "US companies, like Iranian ones, have sustained damage due to the mistakes made by the US government and also economic sanctions," he added.

Mohammad Mohaddes, the head of the exploration division of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said earlier that several unnamed US firms have expressed interest in tenders for 16 recently discovered oil blocks during a commercial forum last month in The Netherlands.
"There is no problem on the side of Iran for the presence of American oil companies in these plans," he said, adding that firms had until April 10 to buy tender documents and until July 10to submit their bids for the 25-year contracts.

But while US firms may be showing interest, few have been prepared to risk falling foul of Washington by investing in Iran. In 1995, the then US president Bill Clinton prohibited US companies and their foreign subsidiaries from conducting business in Iran, and specifically any "contract for the financing of the development of petroleum resources located in Iran".
The US Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 imposes mandatory and discretionary sanctions on non-US companies investing more than $ 20 mm annually in Iranian oil and gas. In late July 2001, the US Congress voted to renew the sanctions for five more years.

Source: Agence France Presse
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