The Iranian investment struggle


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The political sensitivity surrounding Iran is so great that US-based companies are not even allowed to attend presentations by Iranian officials at conferences, a source said.

“I witnessed a recent walk-out during a presentation by the National Iranian Oil & Distribution Company (NIODC),” he said.

But a European office of a US company is able to do business with the Middle Eastern country, provided an entire technology and project is developed by that office.

“If as much as one email passes Europe and the US headquarters, that’s enough for an investment to become technically in breach of sanctions,” the source continued.

These nightmarishly difficult restrictions come as Iran attempts to build no less than seven grassroots refineries in a attempt to rectify deficits in fuel products – one each at Shahriar, Anahita, Caspian, Khuzestan and Pars and two at Hormuz.

Numerous other expansions at existing refineries are being planned with the likely investment costs running into many billions of Euros.

Scepticism is easy following big delays in previous natural grass processing, refining and petrochemical investments due to sanctions that limit financing and technology and skills transfer.

Doubts have also been raised over the level of investment in maintaining output from the oil fields that would supply this new refinery capacity.

In the case of the two crackers finally brought on-stream at Assaluyeh, the slow pace of growth in gas-processing means that they suffer operating rate cuts and even shutdowns during the winter.  

All the gas being processed during the winter months has to be diverted to domestic use because of a big shortfall in supply.

Honest and hardworking company officials on both sides of the political divide deserve solutions.

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