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Iran oil minister warns of 'corrupt parasites'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh talks to reporters on the sidelines of an oil forum in Tehran. ©Shana

Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has warned international energy companies to steer clear of middlemen for access to state officials as the country is lining up its massive oil and gas sector for development. 

“It’s better for foreign companies to rely on their reputation and experience in Iran instead of bargaining on corrupt individuals,” Zangeneh said on the sidelines of an oil forum and exhibition in Tehran Monday.

“Foreign companies interested in Iran’s oil industry ought to know that we are looking for healthy and transparent work. We loath and detest the corrupt parasites who want to suck the blood of the nation,” he added.

The Ministry of Petroleum is currently locked up in a legal battle to reclaim as much as $1.9 billion of oil revenue allegedly withheld by billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani.

Zanjani, on trial for a raft of charges, has acknowledged using a web of companies to sell oil when Western sanctions barred trade with Iran.

In 2004, Norwegian oil and gas producer Statoil was found guilty of bribing London-based Horton Investments to help secure lucrative oil contracts for the company in Iran.

Zangeneh said his ministry is in a “relentless battle against corruption” and “the corrupt individuals whose numbers have swelled under sanctions”.

“I have ordered for access to me and oil executives to be facilitated so that no one consults the individuals who have no other capability than deception.

“These corrupt individuals might say ‘as long as you don’t pay your commission, you will make no headway’, but you must not believe them because that is all ruse,” Zangeneh said in remarks directed at foreign firms.

Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh tours an oil exhibition held in Tehran on Oct. 15, 2015. 

International companies are jockeying for position as Iran prepares to unveil its new oil and gas projects which, officials say, are worth about $185 billion.

Next month, the country will disclose its new contracts which offer new incentives for participation in development projects.

Zangeneh said the new contracts are service contracts which do not include partnership in production.

“Investing companies will not get a share of the produced oil at a field. They will be repaid the cost of operation plus the fees,” he said.

Foreign companies will be rewarded according to production, and better recovery will receive higher payment, Zangeneh added.

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