BP Opts out of Iran Ahead of Trump-era Diplomacy



In recent weeks, Iran has struck a series of deals with foreign energy groups, including Total and Shell, and plans to award more contracts early in 2017 as Tehran’s efforts to attract much-needed foreign investment gather pace.
However, BP, which has its corporate roots in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company responsible for the first Iranian oil discovery in 1908, is taking a more cautious approach ahead of a Donald Trump presidency which threatens renewed diplomatic tensions with Tehran.
According to FT, BP has not applied to take part in a forthcoming tender of exploration and production rights in Iran, according to people briefed on the matter, and has no immediate plans for separate agreements of the kind reached by Shell and Total. Moreover, the main reason as some said was commercial in terms of finding the best returns on investment and BP has plenty of attractive opportunities elsewhere rather than Iran where some US sanctions continued to exist and the prospects of a hardline stance against Tehran by the Trump administration do not augur well.
The FT continued that BP has made some tentative steps to rebuild ties with Iran — including the reopening of an office in Tehran and the acquisition of a cargo of Iranian oil in October — but more slowly than non-US rivals. A BP spokesperson declined to comment.
The FT reported that Iran has the world’s second-largest gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration, but urgently needs outside capital and expertise to modernize its ageing infrastructure.
The FT also stated that Total of France became the first western oil major to make a renewed commitment when it signed a deal in November to develop the next phase of Iran’s giant South Pars gas field together with China National Petroleum Corp. As well as UK-listed Shell followed earlier last month with a more tentative agreement for studies of the Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields in south-west Iran as well as the Kish gas fields in the Gulf.
The FT concluded that Tehran has been racing to seal deals before Barack Obama steps down as US president this month. It remains unclear whether Trump will follow through on his campaign trail promise to rip up the nuclear deal, which Obama orchestrated, but a renewed downturn in US-Iranian relations looks likely.
Recently, Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief executive nominated by Trump to become secretary of state, will have a big role in policymaking on Iran if the US Senate approves his appointment.

Editorial Team