By a Correspondent in Tehran, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Iran’s crude exports nearly tripled between November 2015 and May 2016. The state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) hit pre-sanctions levels of sales late this spring, shipping out 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) — the same level as in 2011.
Meanwhile, Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh has vowed that Iran will further boost its crude output from 3.64 million bpd to 4.8 million bpd in the next five years to regain its pre-sanctions OPEC market share of 14.5%.
To realize this ambition, Iran will need to fund a significant expansion of its maintenance, repair and overhaul industry. As such, it will need billions of dollars in foreign investment. Thus, the June 12 replacement of NIOC Director Roknoddin Javadi (pictured) can be seen as in line with the Iranian oil industry’s new requirements.
Javadi is a longtime, but controversial, energy manager who has attracted negative attention over his handling of a natural gas contract with United Arab Emirates-based Crescent Petroleum more than a decade ago, when Reformist President Mohammad Khatami was in office.
That deal stirred controversy when it was later revealed that Iran had to sell natural gas at extremely low prices to the UAE for 25 years, leading conservatives to accuse certain Reformist executives of treason and corruption. Javadi, who was managing director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company (NIGEC) at that time, has come under harsh criticism ever since. But Zangeneh, a Reformist, ignored these criticisms and gave Javadi one of the most important positions in the ministry when he took office in 2013.