EghtesadOnline: Tehran will refocus on tenders prepared for oil and gas field development projects after the presidential election on May 19, said Ali Kardor, chief executive officer of the National Iranian Oil Company.
"The Oil Ministry did all it could to hold the tenders sooner, but amendments to the new model of contracts, particularly those related to the role of local companies in oil projects, delayed the tendering process … [Therefore] the tenders will be held after the presidential election," Kardor was cited as saying by the semi-official news agency ISNA on Tuesday.
Iranians go to the polls on Friday to choose the next president. Incumbent Hassan Rouhani, whose administration signed a historic deal with six world powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of international sanctions, is seeking a second term.
Among the candidates, Ebrahim Raeesi, a conservative judge and cleric, is seen as Rouhani's biggest challenger. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (a three-time candidate for the job) dropped out on Monday and called on his supporters to vote for Raeesi, Financial Tribune reported.
First vice president and reformist aspirant, Es'haq Jahangiri was expected to announce his withdrawal in favor of Rouhani.
Iran unveiled 50 oil and gas development projects along with the first details of its new oil contracts, known as Iran Petroleum Contract, in late 2015. But efforts to bring back multinationals were thwarted by political opponents of Rouhani and his administration who have strongly criticized the terms of the contracts.
"We hope the tenders will be held shortly after the election," said the NIOC chief without providing a timeframe.
The giant South Azadegan Oilfield near the Iraqi border has been singled out as the first field to be tendered under the new terms.
French energy major Total S.A., Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell and Japan's Inpex are in the race for the field's development rights. Officials say the field could be handed over to a consortium of oil companies.
But there is no clear path ahead of Tehran's first major oil deal with multinationals. The South Azadegan tender was initially scheduled for January, but it was postponed to February and then to March, and now delayed indefinitely.
Moreover, the growing tensions between Tehran and the (US President Donald) Trump administration have created new uncertainty among investors who seek say they want to see political and economic stability before returning to Iran's huge energy market.