Iran open to US companies; rejects oil freeze deal

Islamic Republic's Oil Minister says Tehran would only consider a freeze after it increases production to 4mn barrels a day

A file photo of Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.
A file photo of Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

Iran has welcomed US companies to invest in the Islamic Republic’s oil and gas sector.

“In general, we have no problem with the presence of American companies in Iran,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told Iran’s Press TV on Sunday.

The minister said it is the US government that is “creating restrictions for these companies”, without elaborating.

All international sanctions related to Iran’s disputed nuclear programme were lifted in January under a historic deal reached between Tehran and major world powers in July 2015.

However, Washington maintains separate sanctions imposed on Iran over its ballistic missile programme and the country’s support for US State Department-designated terrorist groups.

Zanganeh also told Press TV that he has asked German company Siemens to invest in Iran’s petroleum sector.

“The German company must come to Iran to build equipment and parts needed in our oil industry and manufacture them here,” Zanganeh said.

Zanganeh also said Iran has no plans to freeze its oil production, in a blow to a deal reached last month between Russia and Saudi Arabia to curb falling global oil prices.

Zanganeh told Press TV that other oil-producing countries should “leave us alone.”

Zanganeh added Tehran would only consider a freeze after it increases production to 4mn barrels a day, the level it saw before international sanctions were imposed due to concerns about its nuclear programme.

Zanganeh has previously said an oil freeze would be a “joke” and Iran wanted to recover its lost market share.

According to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iran’s current oil production is between 2.8mn and 3.5mn barrels a day.

The Russian-Saudi deal, to which OPEC members Venezuela and Qatar also agreed to, is aimed at boosting global oil prices, which have fallen by up to 70% since their peak in mid-2014.

Since the removal of the international sanctions Iran has been trying to regain its share of the global petroleum market.

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