Iran Brushes Off Trump Influence; Oil Deals Continue

Iran is disavowing any impact that Donald Trump’s presidential victory earlier this month has had on the Islamic republic’s negotiations with international energy companies over its new oil projects.

“We’ve felt nothing (negative) so far,” Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Tuesday. He said that Iran is moving ahead with several basic agreements that were awarded to oil giants before and immediately after Trump’s victory, adding that the agreements would be finalized within the next three months.

Several years of international sanctions had limited foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector, including the technology and expertise needed to expand capacity at oil and natural gas fields, resulting in lost oil production and lost market share.

Iran’s oil output level before sanctions totaled 4 million barrels per day (bpd). Since then the country has been ramping up production amid an already saturated global oil market. In October, Iran produced 3.92 million bpd, just 80,000 shy of its pre-sanctions goal. However, the output deficit might still be large enough to cause Iran to balk at oil production cut agreements on Wednesday at OPEC’s meeting in Vienna.

Iran’s mixed courting record

Since the removal of Western sanctions, Iran (which holds the world’s second largest gas reserves and the fourth largest oil reserves) has been courting Western oil companies again but with mixed success. One reason for the luke warm reception is the country’s complicated legal and regulatory system.