Representatives from several Western oil majors including Royal Dutch Shell and Eni recently held meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran. The meetings are the first of their kind following the tentative Iranian nuclear framework deal, and demonstrate the existing level of interest in the Iranian nuclear program. According to Shell representatives, the recent meetings revolved around outstanding debt owed by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for crude that was extracted and not paid for, and did not concern specifics of future deals, as such negotiations could contravene existing sanctions.
The optimism surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, while still present, has lessened some due to conflicting reports of Iran backpedaling on the terms of the initial framework deal. Iran’s capacity for crude development is nonetheless immense, constituting approximately 4.4 million b/d by 2025 according to a forthcoming report by Wood Mackenzie. The Iranian oil ministry is making an effort to coax foreign groups interested in the country into exploring interests there, although given the uncertainy surrounding the nuclear program it remains unlikely that foreign firms will invest without some assurance that sanctions relief is imminent.
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- Gazprom Kyrgyzstan is lobbying the government to raise tariffs for natural gas, according to the Kyrgyz parliament. The General Director of Kyrgyzstan, Bakyt Abildaev, in a statement released yesterday, indicated that current natural gas subsidies must be discontinued in order to increase revenues. A new pricing policy has been called for, although it is unclear if this is in the process of being established.
- The total amount of natural gas supplied by Central Asia to China has reached 9.43 million tons. Approximately 96% of the total comes from Turkmenistan by way of a series of three pipelines labeled the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline network. The fourth pipeline, Line D, is still under construction.
- Russia has extended bans on European food imports for another year, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ban is retaliatory, as the European Union agreed to extend sanctions on Russia for another year. There had been some talk about making import exceptions available to pro-Russia EU countries Greece and Hungary, although it is unclear if this is being considered.
- Stratfor has published new analysis of Belarus’s military relationship with Russia, suggesting that Belarus will move closer to Moscow as its economy weakens and Belarus’s presidential elections loom. Russian and Belarusian defense officials have entered into talks surrounding the possible opening of a new Russian military base; however the project has not progressed as Belarus is seemingly reluctant to allow Russia to station military personnel within its territory.
- The Iranian parliament passed a bill on Tuesday barring UN inspectors from having access to military sites and key personnel deemed to be associated with the country’s military program. The Iranian parliament does not have authority over the country’s nuclear program, which ultimately falls under the purview of Ayatollah Khamanei, and the bill will next submitted to the Guardian Council, a hardline watchdog body that is closely associated with Khamanei. Khamanei, for his part, has already stated that