EghtesadOnline: Iran's potentially lucrative oil and gas deals with Russian companies will help defuse US President Donald Trump's "unilateralism" and his efforts to scrap Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, according to Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.
During President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran on Wednesday, Russia's state oil producer Rosneft and the National Iranian Oil Company agreed on the outlines of a deal for up to $30 billion worth of energy projects, as Russian companies continue to expand their studies on Iranian oil and gas fields.
Zanganeh told reporters on Saturday that Iran's growing economic ties with its strategic partner Russia will pose a setback to Trump's anti-Iran moves.
"These international interactions will put pressure on the unilateralism of the United States," he was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Last month, Trump said he would not sign off on Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, leaving a decision to re-impose sanctions to the Congress, according to Financial Tribune.
But the move was cold-shouldered by other signatories of the nuclear deal, namely Germany, Russia, China, France and Britain, whose companies seek interest in Iran's economy and energy market.
Zanganeh pointed to negotiations with Russian gas giant Gazprom on developing four gas fields in the Persian Gulf, namely Kish, Farzad-A, Farzad-B as well as the North Pars which is the extension of the world's largest gas field shared between Iran and Qatar.
"They [Gazprom] requested more time to carry out studies and we gave them more time," the official said.
Gazprom, the largest exporter of natural gas to Europe, signed a preliminary agreement in May to develop Farzad-B which was discovered in 2008 and still coveted by a consortium of Indian companies.
Russian firms could also play a role in developing South Pars which sees French oil and gas major Total S.A. at the helm of one of its major offshore contracts.
Total signed a $5-billion deal in July to develop South Pars Phase 11 in collaboration with China's CNPC and Iran's state-owned Petropars in what was hailed as the first contract of a major Western company in Iran's energy market.
However, Zanganeh signaled that drilling works will be more difficult in the Caspian Sea, where Iran has persistently underperformed compared to other Caspian littoral states.
"No one has begun drilling in Caspian Sea's deep basins…that's partly due to territorial disputes and in part for drilling [challenges]. We have recently signed a deal with Lukoil, Rosneft and a Norwegian company to develop Caspian oil [reserves]," the minister said, referring to Norway's Offshore Resource Group.
The Caspian region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. It holds an estimated 48 billion barrels of oil and more than 8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in proven and probable reserves.
Zanganeh also underlined Iran's "lack of oil equipment" for oil and gas exploration in the Caspian Sea, adding that "any piece of equipment will be made in the Caspian region."
Iran hopes to raise $200 billion to develop its petroleum industry in collaboration with oil and gas majors who left the market after the tightening of sanctions in 2011 and 2012 over the country's nuclear dispute.