Iran’s petroleum minister is travelling to China to discuss oil sales and Chinese investments in Iran, days after Tehran reached a landmark framework agreement on its nuclear program with six world powers.
Bijan Namdar Zangeneh is set to leave for China on Wednesday, the first by the petroleum minister since he took office in August 2013.
The minister is accompanied by his deputy for international affairs and trading Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia, a former nuclear negotiator, and director for international affairs of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Mohsen Qamsari.
Zamani-Nia said the Iranian officials are expected to discuss China’s investment in oil and gas projects in Iran.
The NIOC officials as well as senior Iranian oil managers plan to meet with regular customers including Unipec, which is the trading arm of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp, and state trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp.
“China has a number of big projects in Iran, and we’re going to polish and resolve questions about those projects,” Zamani-Nia said.
On Sunday Zangeneh said Iran would move quickly to increase oil production to the level it produced before international sanctions were imposed.
At the end of eight days of sensitive nuclear negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Thursday, Iran and the P5+1 states – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – issued a joint statement, saying that no Iranian nuclear facility will be shut down or suspended and all sanctions against the Islamic Republic will be lifted.
The current sanctions against Iran that have been engineered by the United States put a certain ceiling on the country’s oil exports. They also ban foreign investments that the country needs to pump oil out of the ground.
Iran has already acknowledged that the sanctions have undermined its oil production capacity and accordingly its oil exports that provide the lifeline of its economy.
Nevertheless, analysts agree that the successful performance by Zangeneh – and President Hassan Rouhani on the whole – have helped Iran produce and sell enough oil to keep the economy floating.
Iran’s current oil production is estimated to be around 2.7 million barrels per day of which about 1 million barrels are exported – as required by the current regime of sanctions.