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Spain ministers due in Iran with big delegation

3 September 2015 15:56



Three Spanish ministers will begin an official visit to Iran on Sunday along with a 70-member delegation, including representatives of major businesses such as global energy company Repsol.

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria and Public Works and Transport Minister Ana Maria Pastor Julian will be visiting for three days of talks with Iranian officials.

They will be accompanied by business owners operating in the fields of infrastructure, development and road building, as well as oil and gas.

Iran’s oil exports were a regular fixture for Spanish refiners before sanctions in 2012. At one point, they accounted for 50% of Spain’s oil purchases after the Libyan political crisis broke out.

Spain’s CEPSA imported about 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran, with Repsol taking in another 30,000 bpd before replacing buys with Saudi Arabian crude.

Repsol, Spain’s largest oil company, also withdrew from a contract to develop phases 13 and 14 of the giant South Pars gas project in Iran with Royal Dutch Shell.

According to Iranian figures, trade in the last Persian year which ended in March 2015 stood at $321 million, down from 4.7 billion euros in 2011. Iran’s energy exports make up the bulk of the transactions.

Spain’s FM Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo poses for a photo with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on his visit to Tehran in March 2014.

Major European energy companies say they are looking forward to Iran returning to the market which took in 40% of the country’s oil exports.

The recent conclusion of nuclear talks has triggered a race among the Europeans for new business opportunities in Iran. Ministers from Germany, France, Italy and UK have traveled to Tehran with executives of major companies while further visits are on the cards.

Last week, the European Union said it was working on a political agreement to fast-track plans for future energy deals in Iran.

Financial data and news provider Bloomberg on Thursday cited “two people with direct knowledge of the talks” as saying that the deal could be signed as early as November.

“The deal would cover five areas: oil and natural gas contracts, renewables and energy efficiency, power markets, energy infrastructure and investing directly in Iran’s energy industry,” it said.

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