Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji has for a first time appointed a special representative for petroleum issues involving the neighboring Iraq.
Owji on Monday appointed Seyyed Abbas Beheshti as his special envoy for Iraq issues while saying in a decree that position was created due to the significance of Iraq in the Iranian government’s policies and decisions.
In his appointment decree, Owji said the new envoy would coordinate with the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) and the Central Bank of Iran to accelerate payments of arrears owed by Iraq to Iran.
Iraq owes Iran nearly $6 billion for imports of natural gas which it extensively uses in its power plants to generate electricity. The Iraqi government has deposited nearly half of the sum in an account in the Trade Bank of Iraq where access to the funds is restricted because of US sanctions.
The arrears issue caused the NIGC to significantly reduce its gas supplies to Iraq earlier in the summer.
Owji said in his Monday decree that the envoy would liaise with embassies in Tehran and Baghdad to follow up on agreements between the two countries, spherically on issues related to investment and contracts in the two countries’ petroleum sectors.
The new petroleum envoy will also coordinate with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) on oilfields shared between Iran and Iraq.
That comes as the NIOC has accelerated development plans at Azadegan oilfield in the southwestern Khuzestan province.
The company has awarded contracts to Iranian and Chinese firms to build out the field amid massive development projects being implemented on the other side of the border on an Iraqi reserve which is linked to the Azadegan.