The Iran Perspective And The Oil Glut
Iran states that, in the scenario of being brought out of the cold, it could raise its daily oil production by a million barrels, becoming steady in the position of the second largest supplier of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Even if such a boost would take months to happen, as the process of averting sanctions and easing restrictions is a slow one, analysts agree there is a great capacity that should, by any means, be taken into consideration.
In addition, the Iranian Government went even further, revealing that it has plans of adding a second million barrels. This would be possible by developing fields straddling its borders with neighbors. Oil Minister Bijan Namdar stated, just a few days ago, that the Persian Gulf Nation would have the capacity to bring the daily production to 3.8 million, “within a few months”, becoming second placed after Saudi Arabia in OPEC.
According to former oil-industry executives related to the country, this scenario would be even a bigger challenge, as it would imply a great investment of time and money – around five years tens of billions of dollars.
Mohsen Shoar, analyst with Continental Energy DMCC in Dubai and former counselor of ConocoPhilips back in the 1990s, when it negotiated oil contracts in Iran, believes that the most important need is investment, translated in terms of foreign assistance.
Iran prepares for a final agreement with international powers by the end of June, hoping it would be finally released of the sanctions that cut exports, cash flow and oil investments. With the current restrictions, the country only produced 2.8 million barrels a day in February, in comparison to the last months of 2011, when the average daily production was 3.6 million.
Once this happens, Iran would need foreign partners to reach the numbers recorded in the pre-sanctions era, or at least this is Robin Mills’ opinion, analyst at Manaar Energy Consulted in Dubai and former partner of Royal Dutch Shell Plc in Iran into the middle of the last decade. Furthermore, the International Energy Agency, an organization based in Paris which functions as adviser to 29 nations on issues of energy policy, believes that Iran could hit the 3.6 million barrels level within three months after having its sanctions removed.
In terms of external partners, Lukoil stated, through the voice of Chief Executive Officer Vagit Alekperov, that the company would be interested in returning to Iran as soon as this would become possible. On the other hand, representatives of Shell, BP and Total declined to comment the issue the possibility when asked about it.
However, Iran’s potential cannot be overlooked. It has a remarkable capacity of growth in production. “It could explode in terms of production if it opens to investment and improves contract terms for foreign companies”, believes Leonardo Maugeri, associate at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and former head of strategy at Italy’s Eni SpA until 2011, who worked on oil and natural gas projects in Iran.