UK’s biggest oil, gas engineering company eyes Iran’s market
Britain's largest oil and gas engineering company, Amec Foster Wheeler, has indicated its readiness to return to Iranian market as the outlook for the lifting of anti-Iran sanctions seems more promising.
A report published by the Telegraph on Sunday quoted the Amec’s chief executive, Samir Brikho, as saying that he has already discussed the company’s return to Iran's projects with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Last Sunday, Hammond arrived in Tehran for an official two-day visit during which he not only reopened the British Embassy in the Iranian capital, but also met and conferred with senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani and Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh.
“Iran is certainly one of the countries we’re looking at but we can’t do anything while sanctions are still in place,” Brikho added.
Sanctions were imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union at the beginning of 2012 under the pretext that there was diversion in Iran's peaceful nuclear program toward military purposes; an allegation Iran categorically rejected.
Recent conclusion of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has raised hopes about resumption of economic cooperation between Iran and other countries.
Under the JCPOA, limits will be put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all economic and financial bans against the Islamic Republic.
Iran, which accounts for the world’s second-largest gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves, has been trying to attract foreign investment in its hydrocarbon projects after sanctions against its energy sector are lifted.
Brikho told the Telegraph that Amec Foster Wheeler’s senior executive for the Middle East region was among British delegates who accompanied Hammond in his Tehran trip.
Following conclusion of the JCPOA, various European companies have been racing to get back to Iran. High-ranking delegations from Germany, France and Italy have already visited Tehran, discussing expansion of ties in all fields with Iranian officials and making British companies feeling left out in the race for securing a foothold in the country.
According to the Telegraph, oil and gas services and engineering companies are currently under heavy pressure as a result of falling oil prices, which has forced operators to scrap new projects and slash capital expenditure.