BlogIran: Big Oil Partners with Theocratic Regime

Iran: Big Oil Partners with Theocratic Regime


By Hamid Yazdan Panah

Iran’s status an energy superpower has been a blessing and curse. From the days of the Anglo Iranian oil company to the coup against Mossadegh in 1953, it is impossible to remove oil from the political equation in Iran. It should come as no surprise that Iranian oil has factored in extensively in Western negotiations with the regime in Tehran. 

As sanctions on Iran are set to expire following the nuclear agreement, we see an emerging partnership between multinational oil firms, and the fascist regime in Tehran. One glance at the business press and we can see just how excited the Western world is about the newly “liberated” status of Iranian oil.  

The interest between the mullahs in Iran and potential business partners in the West has been long standing. In 2013 an adviser to Iran’s oil minister, Mehdi Hosseini, was quoted in a Financial Times article as saying the regime was ready to change its current system of oil contracts, which did not allow foreign companies to take equity stakes in Iranian projects.

Bloomberg recently ran a piece entitled, “Iran Sweetens Terms for Oil Investors Ahead of End of Sanction.” The piece states;

“Iran is targeting about $30 billion in investment by offering 70 oil and natural gas projects to international companies as the Persian Gulf country anticipates the lifting of economic sanctions.

Iranian officials presented the projects at a two-day conference in Tehran as part of an effort to attract more than $100 billion to revive the energy and petrochemicals industries and generate much-needed government income.”

In other words, the cash strapped Mullahs in Tehran are hoping to auction off Iran’s oil at bargain prices in order to shore up a floundering economy and pay for their destructive war in Syria.

This push is nothing new, and was part of a larger strategy to secure sanctions relief.  In 2013 The Economist, reported on the subject and discussed the appointment of Bijan Zanganeh, who “…hopes that offering juicy deals to Western oil firms will make them lobby their home governments to ease sanctions.”

That lobbying effort, which interestingly enough included a calculated push by Iranian-Americans with ties to the oil industry, appears to have paid off, as the Iranian regime and multinational oil companies got what they were asking for, the removal of sanctions on Iran.

In 2013, Reuters published a piece entitled, “Iran thaw warms Western oil company interest”, in which a senior executive from a major U.S. oil company stated; “We’re willing to talk: Iran’s got tremendous potential.” This potential does however come at the price of working with one of the most brutal and corrupt regimes in the entire world.

It appears that Big Oil has no qualms with working with the regime in Tehran as long as the investment terms are favorable. It also appears that the regime in Tehran, which continues to execute its own citizens at a record pace, and uses the state to enrich the ruling class, has no problem mortgaging the wealth of the Iranian people for its short term political interests.

Hamid Yazdan Panah is an Iranian-American human rights activist and attorney focused on immigration and asylum in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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