Executives from Royal Dutch Shell and Eni have met Iranian officials in Tehran to discuss investing in the country’s energy industry, the first time international oil groups have publicly confirmed such talks ahead of a possible nuclear deal with the west.
The meetings, which took place in May and June, are evidence of the growing interest among big oil companies in Iran, which boasts the world’s third-largest oil and gas reserves but which will need tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment to realise its ambitions to nearly double production by the end of the decade.
A Shell spokesman told the Financial Times that its officials met counterparts in Tehran this month to discuss outstanding debt owed to the National Iranian Oil Company for crude that had been lifted but not paid for. He added: “They also discussed potential areas for business co-operation should sanctions be lifted.”
“We review our growth portfolio on a regular basis and do not exclude any countries that are open to foreign investment,” the company said. “Should future sanctions relief make that possible, we would be interested in exploring with the government of Iran what role Shell can play in developing its energy potential.”