Monthly Archives: January 2014

How will OPEC respond to a rise in Iran’s oil output?

“Nader Habibi, professor of economics at Brandeis University, describes the tension between Iran’s goal of increasing its share of the world oil market once sanctions are lifted and OPEC’s desire to maintain a stable price for crude. He predicts that tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran may drive OPEC to allow the price of oil to drop over the next few years.”

Financial Times: Iran courts western oil majors at Davos

 By Ajay Makan– January 22, 2014 

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, has asked a group of western oil majors to detail the conditions under which they would return to the country, as Tehran continues its drive to win back international business amid a thaw in sanctions.

In a closed-door meeting including BPEniRoyal Dutch Shell and Total on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Rouhani and his oil minister Bijan Zangeneh told executives to submit contracts they would like to see Iran adopt.

US companies declined to attend but one other person who did was Khalid al-Falih, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, the state oil company of regional rival Saudi Arabia, which has been nervously watching Tehran’s rapprochement with the west.

Iran is desperate to revive its oil industry and boost lucrative exports, after crude production slumped by 1m barrels a day to around 2.7m b/d under the weight of international sanctions imposed against its nuclear programme in 2012.

Iranian officials plan further meetings with oil companies in London during the summer, before proposing a final contract in September.

“The very fact that the president of Iran chose to spend an hour with us shows how interested he is in attracting international oil companies into the country,” said Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of ENI.

Mr Rouhani said he wanted to see international companies work on new projects, including the development of the giant South Pars gasfield which Iran shares with Qatar, but has struggled to develop, according to Mr Scaroni.

The president said he was willing to abandon Iran’s buyback contracts, which are disliked by western groups. International companies are keen on contracts that reward them for growing production and provide compensation for unexpected cost overruns.

He also said he wanted help to boost production at existing sites including the Azadegan field. International companies will also be offered the opportunity to participate in gas infrastructure projects, including liquefied natural gas terminals and a possible gas to liquids project.

Executives from state oil companies including Pemex of Mexico, Lukoil and Gazprom Neft of Russia and Petrobras of Brazil were also present.

Chinese state oil companies, which currently dominate international operations in Iran, were absent, however, suggesting the emphasis was on bringing in fresh expertise.


IAEA Releases Its New Report on Iran, very different from previous reports, indicating Iran has halted major enrichment activities

Board of Governors GOV/2014/INF/1 Date: 20 January 2014
Status of Iran’s Nuclear Programme in relation to the Joint Plan of Action
Report by the Director General

1.      As foreshadowed in the Director General’s report on the Monitoring and Verification in the Islamic Republic of Iran in relation to the Joint Plan of Action (GOV/2014/2), the purpose of this report is to provide information on the status of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (Iran’s) nuclear programme in relation to the “voluntary measures” that Iran has agreed to undertake, as of 20 January 2014, as part of the   Joint Plan of Action (JPA).

2.      The Agency confirms that, as of 20 January 2014, Iran:

• has ceased enriching uranium above 5% U-235 at the two cascades at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) and four cascades at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) previously used for this purpose;
• has ceased operating cascades in an interconnected configuration at PFEP and FFEP;
• has begun diluting UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 at PFEP;
• is continuing the conversion of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 into U3O8 at the Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP);
• has no process line to reconvert uranium oxides enriched up to 20% U-235 back into UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 at FPFP;
• is not conducting any further advances to its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, FFEP or the Arak reactor (IR-40), including the manufacture and testing of fuel for the IR-40 reactor;
• is continuing to construct the Enriched UO2 Powder Plant for the conversion of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235 into oxide;
GOV/2014/INF/1 Page 2
• is continuing its safeguarded R&D practices at PFEP, including its current enrichment R&D practices, and continues not to use them for the accumulation of enriched uranium; and
• is not carrying out reprocessing related activities at the Tehran Research Reactor and the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production (MIX) Facility.
        3. The Agency can also confirm that it has received written   communications from Iran in relation to the “voluntary  measures” that Iran has agreed to undertake in the first six  months as part of the JPA, as follows:
• a letter from Iran dated 18 January 2014 stating that “for the first step time-bound (six months), there will be no new location for enrichment other than those already existing at the Fordow and Natanz sites”;
• a letter from Iran dated 18 January 2014 stating that “during the first step time-bound (six months), Iran will not engage in stages of reprocessing activities, or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing”;
• a letter from Iran dated 18 January 2014 stating that “during the first step of time-bound (six months), Iran declares that there is no reconversion line to reconvert uranium oxide enriched up to 20% U-235 back into UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235”; and
• a letter from Iran dated 20 January 2014, enclosing information on centrifuge assembly workshops, storage facilities and centrifuge rotor production workshops.

  4.    The Agency and Iran have also agreed on arrangements for  increased access by Agency inspectors to the nuclear facilities  at Natanz and Fordow, including in relation to weekends and  holidays in Iran.