May 25, 2017
By Rania El Gamal and Dmitry Zhdannikov

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran hopes to sign groundbreaking deals with oil majors such as Total and Lukoil this year as the re-election this month of reformist Hassan Rouhani to the presidency should boost investments.

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh talks to journalists before the beginning of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Iran’s veteran oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, told Reuters in an interview he saw his country adding around a quarter to its production capacity in the next five years thanks to new projects with international companies.

The development of new fields as well as improved oil recovery from mature reservoirs should allow Iran, OPEC’s No.3 oil producer, to have the capacity to pump 5 million barrels per day, or 5 percent of global crude, versus 4 million bpd now.

Gas condensate output capacity should increase to 1 million bpd from about 600,000 bpd now.

“One important step was the election, because in this election Iranian people said ‘yes’ to positive interaction with the world,” Zanganeh said in Vienna after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“I hope this message will be understood positively … especially by the superpower in the world,” he said in a clear reference to the United States, which has had sanctions against Iran since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

“It is not the time to trigger actions against Iran,” he said. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose new sanctions against Iran.

“It (the election) is a very clear message to the world. More than 60-65 percent of Iran’s young people, middle-class people, university students, sent this message. I hope the world receives it positively.”

Zanganeh said he hoped Iran would sign oil deals this year with France’s Total, Russia’s Lukoil as well as Danish Maersk and maybe Indonesia’s Pertamina.

Talks are focusing on the development of fields such as South Azadegan, Yadavaran, West Karoon, Mansuri and Abe-Timur and oil layers in the giant South Pars gas field.

He said the rise in Iran’s production capacity should not derail cooperation with OPEC, which on Thursday asked its members to curb output for another nine months to fight a global oil glut.

“All OPEC decisions are short-term decisions. Production capacity is part of our long-term plans,” Zanganeh said.

Zanganeh, who clashed with Iran’s arch-rival Saudi Arabia at many previous OPEC meetings, said he was positively surprised by good cooperation within the organisation, its partnership with non-OPEC Russia as well as solid OPEC and non-OPEC compliance with output cuts.

“After more than two years, I think it’s the first time we had a smooth meeting without any issue. I have been in OPEC close to 20 years, it’s the first time that I witness 100 percent compliance from OPEC and close to 100 percent from non-OPEC”.