US trying to contrive victory with tanker seizure: Iran
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 18 August 2020 12:23 PM
Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has reiterated that the cargo of oil tankers reportedly seized by the United States last week was not Iranian.
"The United States is seeking to contrive a victory for itself. Neither did the ships nor the cargo belong to Iran," Zangeneh told reporters on Tuesday after attending a parliamentary session.
US officials have said the Trump administration seized the cargo of four tankers transporting 1.1 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela as part of Washington's campaign of maximum pressure on both countries.
Tehran has pushed back on Washington's effort to portray the seizure as a victory after the US failed to stop five Iranian tankers from delivering badly needed fuel Venezuela in May.
Iran's ambassador to Venezuela, Hojjat Soltani, has said the report was an "act of psychological warfare perpetrated by the US propaganda machine" trying to compensate for the Trump administration's "humiliation and defeat by Iran using false propaganda."
Zangeneh on Tuesday said the cargo included Iranian gasoline sold to Venezuela.
"These shipments included Iranian gasoline that was sold FOB (free on board) to Venezuela; so the United States has not confiscated the property of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the property of Venezuela," he said.
On Monday, the Iranian minister sought to put the kibosh on the much-hyped report as he made it clear that the money for the cargoes had been settled.
"Please don't talk about Venezuela at all. It was a merely commercial deal. Don't turn it to a political battle. The cargoes that the Americans have seized had gone from Iran. But neither the tankers nor the contents belonged to us," he said.
Local companies snap up major deals
Zangeneh made the remarks on the sidelines of a ceremony in Tehran to sign more than $1.5 billion euros of contracts to raise oil production by over 180,000 barrels per day (bpd).
The signing included 13 projects awarded by the National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) and the National Iranian Offshore Oil Company (NIOOC) to 14 domestic companies.
Managing Director of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Masoud Karbasian said the contracts were the second part of a bigger package for a total production rise over 280,000 bpd from 33 fields with direct investment of $6.2 billion.
The first stage of the plan, he said, involved 10 contracts worth 740 million euros signed in 2019 with a 75,000 bpd oil production target.
Zangeneh has said Iran's oil industry is on the frontline of the fight against "the enemy" which has slapped the sector with the most aggressive sanctions ever to dry up the country's revenues.
On Tuesday, the minister said Iranian companies are undertaking development and rehabilitation projects to enable the country to regain lost market share once sanctions against its energy sector are lifted.
"These projects bear a message right now that we work under the sanctions... some would ask me whether it's necessary to create production capacity while you have surplus capacity and you cannot use the capacity fully under the sanctions," Zangeneh said.
Iran sits on the world's largest reserves of gas and the fourth largest oil deposits just behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada, but the development of its energy sector has been bedeviled by the sanctions.
The coercive measures, however, have buoyed domestic entities which before the sanctions were always written off for lucrative contracts against major international companies.
Iran's oil industry has been looking inward since the sanctions came into effect in November 2018, going out of its way to put unprecedented trust in local companies for implementation of some major projects.
As an example, a multibillion-dollar deal to develop phase 11 of supergiant South Pars gas field has been awarded to Iran's Petropars after French oil major Total and the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) withdrew from the project.
In February, Iranian companies installed a 2,500-tonne offshore platform at phase 13 of the world's largest gas field in the Persian Gulf, in a further testimony to their burgeoning ability to carry out tasks which until recently were an exclusive prerogative of international energy giants.
The same month, Iran unveiled its first oil rig manufactured by domestic companies, fulfilling a dream which the country's petroleum industry cherished for long.
Earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhnai opened what was billed as the world's largest methanol plant in Bushehr.
And Iran awarded last month a $1.3 billion development plan to more than double oil production at the South Azadegan field.
It was the second oil project signed in the month with local companies after a $300 million contract to develop the Yaran oil field was warded to Persia Oil and Gas Industry Development Co.
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