EghtesadOnline: Iran is pushing ahead with plans to develop its petroleum projects as the country's foreign partners and the global crude market have shrugged off US President Donald Trump's decision to decertify the nuclear deal, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, the oil minister, said on Sunday.
"Trump's stance did not have any impact on oil markets …We are pressing ahead with our plans as before," Zanganeh told a group of conservative members of the parliament, IRNA reported.
In a major shift of policy, Trump said on Oct. 13 that he would not certify Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, giving the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to impose new sanctions against Tehran.
The nuclear deal led to the lifting of an array of financial and trade restrictions against Iran and allowed the country to significantly increase the sales of crude oil, its most important export commodity, Financial Tribune reported.
Experts say a return of sanctions can throttle Iranian shipments and change the dynamics of the international oil market in the long run.
However, Trump's comments failed to produce a knee-jerk reaction in oil prices nearly as much as geopolitical tensions, notably supply disruptions in the Iraqi Kurdistan region that pushed prices close to the $60-per-barrel level this month.
Zanganeh said on Sunday a gas deal with France's Total, Iran's biggest energy contract since last year's lifting of sanctions, is underway.
"Total has started implementing the gas project and more contracts are being planned," he said.
Zanganeh also said the French energy major has adopted a "suitable stance" on its $5 billion gas deal.
Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said last week that his company will try to push ahead with the South Pars project if the US decides to impose unilateral sanctions, adding that Total will comply with any law that obliges it to withdraw from Iran.
The minister also said Tehran is flexible in choosing foreign partners to develop its shared oil and gas reserves.
"We are open to negotiating with all countries who have technical capacity in the oil sector. We do not differentiate among Europeans, China, Russia or others because our goal is to develop the joint fields," he said.
"Iran has pumped an average of 2.8 million barrels of crude oil and condensate in the past six months. Tehran has no problem in receiving payments for crude exports from European customers."
According to a report by the Central Bank of Iran last month, the No. 3 OPEC producer earned over $23 billion from selling crude oil in roughly six months since the beginning of the present fiscal year in March.
Iran currently produces about 880 million cubic meters of gas per day. Plans are in place to raise output to 1 billion cubic meters per day by March 2018 and reach the 1.3-bcm mark in five years.
Crude oil production capacity is also planned to rise by nearly 1 million barrels a day to about 4.7 million bpd by 2021 from the present 3.8 million barrels a day.