Source: Press TV
Exxon Mobil is reported to have stationed lobbyists to push the envelope on Iran sanctions with the US government as Western companies are jostling for access to the Middle East country’s massive oil and gas fields.
Update: ExxonMobil denies lobbying on Iran sanctions
ExxonMobil has rejected as "inaccurate" media reports that it is lobbying the US government on Iran sanctions . “ExxonMobil is not lobbying on Iran sanctions,” said Ken Cohen, vice president of Public and Government Affairs, in an announcement. “Erroneous media reports resulted from errors in a consultant’s lobbying disclosures. Current US law prohibits American companies from operating in Iran,” read the statement that was posted on The Maritime Executive news website.
According to Bloomberg, the Texas-based oil company has hired a lobbying firm founded by former Republican Senator Don Nickles to press the US government on lifting sanctions against Tehran.
Western companies are eager to work on Iranian fields because they are among the largest and cheapest to develop, it quoted on economist as saying.
"Given sanctions and the dilapidation of oilfields over time, it looks like it'd be a lot of work" for foreign companies, Allen Good, a Chicago-based analyst at Morningstar Inc. told Bloomberg.
"But unlike Iraq, you'd don't have a civil war going on so it'd be an easier path to growing production. You could get a pretty good bump pretty quickly," he said.
Western companies are holding their breath as nuclear negotiations between Iran and the US and other members of the P5+1 group are heading to the decisive round.
Expectations of a final agreement and consequent removal of sanctions have put energy entities on the watch but those hopes are being sapped by reports that the West was hunkering down for “excessive demands”.
The US government reasserted its obdurate position on Thursday by announcing sanctions on two Arab airlines for selling nine used commercial aircraft to Iran.
While the direction of the talks remains unclear, foreign companies are vying to forge initial links with Iran.
On Thursday, CEO of Italy’s Eni SpA Claudio Descalzi said he traveled to Tehran two weeks ago. Speaking to La Repubblica, Descalzi said Iran could "start attracting investment" from foreign companies again if a nuclear deal was sealed.
Eni and other major European energy giants left Iran after the US intensified sanctions on the country.
American companies are banned from any business with Iran under a US law which has effectively been in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama renewed unilateral US restrictions on purchases of oil and oil products from Iran.
Exxon business in Iran goes back to the period before the revolution when the shah was a close ally of the United States.
Earlier this week, an Iranian oil ministry official said the country’s oil and gas is open to American investment but US companies have to tie up with Iranian companies under certain terms.
“From the government’s standpoint, there is no limitation for oil investment by the Americans in Iran,” deputy Minister of Petroleum Amir Hossein Zamaninia said.
The official said European and American companies are showing strong interest for investment in Iran’s oil and gas industries.
“Over the past couple of months, not one or two companies but several American entities have announced readiness to invest and participate in Iran’s oil industry projects if sanctions are annulled.”
Zamaninia said most US companies have proposed to partner with other companies for investments as he spelled out Iran’s conditions.
“The pattern for partnership and investment of American companies in Iran’s oil and gas industry has to be based on the trade package which has been earmarked to the Iranian private sector,” he said.
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