|Foreign investors eying return to Iran oil market||
TEHRAN - Iran is preparing to capitalize on improved relations with the West through floating a huge incentive - the prospect of giving Western investors access to the country's vast oil and gas reserves.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has been sending signals that the new spirit of openness being displayed by Iranian officials could extend to Iran's energy market.
In recent weeks, he has touted the competitive advantages of extracting oil and gas in Iran, and said contracts are being rewritten to allow for more foreign investment in the sector - including the development of the massive South Pars gas field, according to an article published by Asia Times Online.
"We will do anything necessary to get back Iran's share in the oil market," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the Iranian Oil Ministry's news agency, Shana, on October 1. "Contacts have been made [with foreign energy companies] to that effect and all of them are willing to return."
Following recent slight overtures made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the West, which can cause easing of the sanctions imposed on Iran, some foreign oil companies have said they will return Iran if sanctions are lifted.
Zanganeh has written on his Facebook page that major foreign oil companies have expressed hope for intensive cooperation with the National Iranian Oil Company after the sanctions against the country are lifted.
He said that the representatives of these companies have contacted Iran's officials and held talks with them regarding the return to Iran's oil industry.
Zanganeh also added that the Oil Ministry will spare no effort to increase Iran's crude oil production capacity up to 4 million barrels per day till the end of the current Iranian calendar year, which ends on March 21, 2014.
He also said he has held informal talks with half a dozen foreign energy companies about resuming their activities in Iran.
In this line, Chief Executive of the French energy giant Total Christophe de Margerie has said the company will return to Iran, if international sanctions are lifted on petroleum exports, AFP news agency reported.
Questioned by reporters about whether the company would return to the Islamic republic, should sanctions be lifted, de Margerie replied: "Of course".
Iran holds the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves, and plans to use foreign companies for various oil and gas related projects.
The country's total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of extractable oil.
Moreover, heavy and extra heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.
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