Iran General NewsU.S. lists companies aiding Iran’s energy projects

U.S. lists companies aiding Iran’s energy projects

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ImageNew York Times: Over the past five years, 41 foreign companies have helped Iran develop its oil and gas sector, which accounts for more than half of the Iranian government’s revenues, Congressional investigators reported Thursday. The New York Times

By RON NIXON

ImageWASHINGTON — Over the past five years, 41 foreign companies have helped Iran develop its oil and gas sector, which accounts for more than half of the Iranian government’s revenues, Congressional investigators reported Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office said the companies provided expertise, equipment and financing and did construction work on oil and gas pipelines, enabling Iran to increase energy production and profits.

No American companies were listed in the report, but the China National Petroleum Corporation was reported to be financing an oil field in an agreement with the Iranian government estimated to be worth more than $2 billion. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea was reported to be building tanker ships for Iran under a $384 million contact.

The report did not determine whether the companies had violated the Iran Sanctions Act, devised to punish foreign companies that invested more than $20 million in a given year to develop Iran’s oil and gas fields.

“Clearly, we need to take a tougher stance against companies tied to Iran’s refined petroleum capacity,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who has been pushing for hearings on companies that do business in Iran. “Companies whose profits fuel Iran’s nuclear ambitions should not be allowed to do business with the U.S. or benefit from the U.S. economy — period,” she added.

The House and Senate have passed legislation aimed at strengthening sanctions on companies doing business with Iran, and are working to iron out differences in the bills.

The United States and its European allies are trying to win support for a tough new sanctions aimed at pressing Iran to rein in its nuclear program, but China and Brazil have resisted. Both countries have companies that work in Iran’s energy sector, the report says.

Last month, The New York Times disclosed that over the past 10 years, the federal government gave more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran. That includes nearly $15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves.

In the 14 years since the law was passed, the government has never enforced it, in part for fear of angering America’s allies.

A number of companies have recently announced that they will end or curtail their operations in Iran. The French oil giant Total and the Italian oil company Eni are also said to be considering ending their operations in Iran. Both companies were named in the investigators’ report, which was requested by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona.

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