Wednesday, 15 January, 2020

World’s largest oil driller signs preliminary deal with Iran

Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s largest oil driller by market value, said Sunday it had signed a preliminary deal to study an Iranian oil field, as Donald Trump’s presidential victory has yet to deter U.S.-connected companies from dealing with Tehran.

The contract is one of the most prominent signed since the Nov. 8 election. Mr. Trump has vowed to undo a nuclear pact with Tehran signed last year by global powers, Bloomberg reported.

The pledge has led many international companies to freeze their plans to enter the Islamic Republic despite the country’s huge potential as an energy and consumer market.

But a spokesman for Schlumberger, one of the world’s largest oil-services companies, told The Wall Street Journal it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-run National Iranian Oil Company “for the non-disclosure of data required for a technical evaluation of a field development prospect.”

Though it is incorporated in Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles, Schlumberger has one of its headquarters in Houston, while some of its shares trade in New York. If completed, the deal would be the first in Iran for Schlumberger since European sanctions for the company to leave the country in 2010.

Schlumberger said the deal does not involve the execution of oilfield services operations and it intends to comply with the laws and regulations of the countries where it operates.

Though most international sanctions on Iran’s energy industry were lifted in January, Washington has maintained a ban on U.S. companies and citizens from investing in that country’s oil fields.

European oil giants have stepped into the breach, culminating with an agreement by France’s  Total SA to join a $4.8 billion investment in an Iranian gas field hours before Mr. Trump was elected.

Despite uncertainty over what the president-elect will do over the Iran nuclear deal, Schlumberger is not the only one to pursue Iranian opportunities. Immediately after Mr. Trump’s election, Norway’s DNO signed up to study a key Iranian oil field near the Iraqi border.

European aircraft maker  Airbus Group SE recently received U.S. government backing for the export of more than 100 jetliners to Iran, despite a move by U.S. lawmakers to curb such transactions.

Photo: Reuters

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