Shell discusses $2.3 billion debt to Iran

Published June 4th, 2015 - 01:48 GMT

Royal Dutch Shell says it is discussing repayment of an outstanding debt to Iran of $2.3 billion as the energy giant eyes new opportunities in the country. 

Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden has met with Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh on the sidelines of an OPEC seminar in Vienna to "give assurance that payments will be made as soon as they can be made.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, van Beurden said the debt will be repaid after US and European sanctions on Iran are lifted.

He made the announcement as he said the Anglo-Dutch energy company was looking at “opportunities” in Iran which is nearing the final stretch of nuclear talks with the P5+1 group amid hopes of an agreement.

In 2013, the British government prevented Shell from repaying the debt which it owes for the crude oil it bought from the National Iranian Oil Company.

Shell was reported at the time to be trying to pay the debt in kind with grains or pharmaceutical which are not barred by US and European sanctions but the UK government nevertheless blocked it.

In Vienna, leaders of other energy companies were also meeting with Zangeneh, including Russia’s Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne was reported to have met the Iranian minister. BP CEO Bob Dudley told Press TV the London-based company “would be very much interested in investing in Iran”.

Even US oil companies are not concealing their interest. ConocoPhillips chief Ryan Lance said his company is interested in opportunities in Iran.

Meanwhile, Zangeneh outlined Iran’s new form of contracts for projects which he believed will be “more attractive for the investors.”

Iran is diligently working to regain its share of the market for its oil exports before sanctions cut them by half.

Speaking at the Vienna seminar, Zangeneh said Iran will pump half a million barrels per day “immediately or one month” after sanctions are lifted and reach one million bpd after six or seven months.

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