Iran is inviting foreign investors to actively develop its energy industry after sanctions are expected to ease in 2016, under a nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers, deputy Oil Minister Rokneddin Javadi told Reuters on Thursday.
"We welcome all oil companies, including the Americans, that meet Islamic Republic’s requirements to invest in Iran. We welcome competition among foreign oil companies," Javadi said in a telephone interview from Tehran.
Business delegations from around the globe have rushed to
Iran after the July 14 deal, in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for an end to economic sanctions that have hit the country's oil production.
Major Western oil companies started withdrawing from OPEC member Iran after the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on the country in 2012.
Javadi said Iran placed no limitations on Western companies, including U.S. companies, investing in its oil and gas sector. He said Iran needed foreign know-how and technology to help develop its oil fields and improve pipeline and refinery infrastructure.
"Our policy is that all foreign companies can bring their investment, technology and advanced management skills to develop our oil industry. Iran’s market will not be monopolised by a few companies," he stressed.
"Iran has never banned American companies from working in Iran. It was their government's imposed unjust limitations that took this chance away from them."
U.S. companies will still not be able to return to Iran because U.S. sanctions related to human rights and terrorism will not be lifted under the landmark deal.
The sanctions have halved Iran's oil exports to around 1.1 million bpd from a pre-2012 level of 2.5 million bpd. The loss of oil income has hampered investment in new development and the country has struggled to pay for the equipment and services needed to maintain smooth production.