President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nominee for the post of oil minister Rostam Qassemi said Iran's oil sector is facing no major challenge, and dismissed a recent travel ban imposed by the US on him as "unimportant."
"The oil industry is facing no major challenge, and we will resolve the existing problems with help of the government and the parliament," Commander of the IRGC's Khatam ol-Anbia Headquarters General Rostam Qassemi, who has been nominated for the oil ministry post, told reporters on Sunday.
Asked about his work plans and agenda for the ministerial post, Qassemi said, "My most important program includes a better use of joint fields, protection of oil reserves and collection of oil-based gases."
He also stressed that he will focus on diplomacy as his priority for removing future challenges.
In response to a question about the travel restrictions imposed by the US against him, Qassemi dismissed the issue as "trivial", and stated, "It is the US which has imposed sanction on me and the United States is not an important country."
Iran, which sits on the world's second largest reserves of both oil and gas, is facing US sanctions over its civilian nuclear program.
Iranian officials have dismissed US sanctions as inefficient, saying that they are finding Asian partners instead. Several Chinese and other Asian firms are negotiating or signing up to oil and gas deals.
Following US pressures on companies to stop business with Tehran, many western companies decided to do a balancing act. They tried to maintain their presence in Iran, which is rich in oil and gas, but not getting into big deals that could endanger their interests in the US.
Yet, after oil giants in the West witnessed that their absence in big deals has provided Chinese, Indian and Russian companies with excellent opportunities to sign up to an increasing number of energy projects and earn billions of dollars, they started showing increasing interest in investment or expansion of work in Iran.
Some European states have also recently voiced interest in investment in Iran's energy sector after the gas deal was signed between Iran and Switzerland regardless of US sanctions.
The National Iranian Gas Export Company and Switzerland's Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg signed a 25-year deal in March 2008 for the delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
The biggest recent deal, worth €100m ($147m, £80m), was signed by Steiner Prematechnik Gastec, the German engineering company, this year to build equipment for three gas conversion plants in Iran.
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