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EghtesadOnline: Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told lawmakers on Sunday that signing contracts with international oil and gas majors will safeguard the landmark nuclear agreement with the world powers and reduce the risk of further economic restrictions.

"The presence of oil majors in Iran and cementing their interest with our stability, security and economy will, in the short, medium- and long-term, shields us from international sanctions as well as regional and global hostility," Zanganeh said in the chamber on Sunday, IRNA reported.

The minister was in parliament Sunday to respond to questions and concerns over the revised version of oil contracts, dubbed the Iran Petroleum Contract.

"I would like to ask the MPs why no new contract is being signed and why foreign investment is not taking place in order to speed up the development (of energy projects)," Financial Tribune quoted Zanganeh as saying.

"Our neighboring country used to produce 1 million barrels less crude and sold almost half of what we were exporting. They now pump 1 million more barrels daily and export twice as much," Zanganeh complained. He was referring to Iraq which is recovering from the 2003 United States invasion and a bloody conflict with Islamic State terror group which has seized control of parts of the Arab country since 2014.

Tehran struck a historic deal with the six world powers (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) in 2015 and curbed its nuclear activities for relief from financial and trade sanctions.

The new contracts can and should reinvigorate the economy and yield significant profit for the key petroleum industry, according to the top oil official.

"If we do this right, we can sign between $70 billion and $80 billion worth of contracts in a short period, and that translates into security and new jobs. Under the new contracts, 60-70% of the work will be given to domestic workers," he noted.

--- Opposition

The government of President Hassan Rouhani devised the IPC model as a replacement for out-of-favor buyback contracts which dominated most of Iran's energy deals for nearly two decades.

Since the IPC was first reported in 2015, the framework has been the target of criticism from the powerful opponents of the president and his government. But Zanganeh says it is time to push disagreements aside for a major prize.

"We need new technology to develop our oilfields and raise the rate of recovery. Oilfields in the West Karoun block (near the Iraq border) hold nearly 70 billion barrels of oil. Raising the extraction rate by only 1% will add $35 billion to (annual) oil income. "Who has the right to disregard such massive sources of revenue?"

The minister added that the long-delayed IPC is being reviewed by the Supreme National Security Council, but did not elaborate or say how long it will take.

According to reports, the IPC has more flexible terms that take into account oil price fluctuations and investment risks.

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh Iran deal Iran oil contracts Iran parliament