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Exxon’s Black Sea hopes dashed

Steven Mnuchin US TreasurySecretaryThe Trump administration has rejected Exxon Mobil’s application for a waiver from sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea and subsequent events in eastern Ukraine, dashing the oil company’s hopes that it could resume drilling in the Black Sea in partnership with Rosneft. (more…)

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Exxon in bid to resume Russian JV

Exxon Mobil has applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from US sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its Black Sea joint venture with state oil giant Rosneft, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal; but (more…)

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Brexit draws UK companies to Iran despite shadow of sanctions

Iranian power plant at ShazandWith the prospect of Brexit limiting their ability to operated within the EU, UK firms are cautiously turning to the attention the opportunities potentially on offer from Iran’s $600bn anticipated boom in trade and infrastructure investment over the next ten years.
With the Islamic Republic about to embarking on an ambitious investment drive after years of international isolation, the authorities in Tehran are expected to be looking overseas for the finance it requires for a number of key projects, including the expansion of its 10,223km long state-owned rail network; the construction of 7 new international airports; the upgrade of 54 existing ones; and the acquisition of a new fleet of aircraft. The state carrier Iran Air has already placed orders with Airbus for 114 new aircraft and it is estimated that another 600 new airplanes will be needed over the next decade.
Iran also hopes to secure large investments into its unexplored and under-developed natural gas sector.
“Is there an opportunity here for UK business? Of course there is,” said Amanda Clack, head of Infrastructure and consultancy EY told The Telegraph this week. “Deliverability is key and contracts could be won by British companies on the basis of professionalism. These skills are underpinned by high standards and regulation which means the companies are more likely to offer a robust approach to the work.”
However, according to the The British Iranian Chamber of Commerce (BICC), the main obstacle towards a significant increase in British Iranian trade lies in the absence of banking facilities caused by the fear among European banks of American primary sanctions against Iran which were retained even after the Iran nuclear deal in late 2015.
“Until the American election there were indications that some UK banks were willing to handle direct transactions with Iran under certain conditions. Since then attitudes of the banks seem to have become more cautious and restrictive,” a spokesman said.

 

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Johnson to push G7 to impose new sanctions on Russia over Syria

Chemical gas attack SyriaUK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to use today’s G7 meeting in Lucca to call on fellow member states to ramp up sanctions against Russia following the latest developments in Syria, according to The Times, unless Moscow (more…)

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Amazon facing penalties over Iran

Amazon CEO Jeff BezosE-commerce giant Amazon could be facing penalties from the US Treasury, it has emerged, after it told both the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security that it had sold a variety of consumer products to individuals and unspecified groups controlled or owned by the Iranian government.
The goods ranged from apparel to software to pet products and cost $50 to about $2,400, according to the filing, and mean that Amazon has in all probability contravened the Iran Threat Reduction Action signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to strengthen trade restrictions on Iran and try to persuade it to stop its nuclear activities. In January 2016, the U.S. lifted some of the economic sanctions tied to the nuclear program.
US President Donald TrumpThe transactions appear to have came to light during an internal review which a spokesperson described as “ongoing” and which highlights the nervousness currently sweeping corporate America about the Trump administration taking an increasingly hard line towards companies doing business with Iran.

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Trump travel ban puts Boeing’s $8bn deal with Iran Air in jeopardy

Trump travel banUS President Donald Trump’s decision to issue an executive order barring Iranian nationals from travelling to the US for the next three months has cast further doubt on Boeing’s $8bn deal to supply Iran Air with 80 aircraft that the two companies agreed in principle at the back end of 2016.
The travel ban (more…)

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Iran Air takes delivery of first Airbus jet in ‘bright day’ for aviation sector

IranAir Chairman Farhad Parvaresh with Airbus A321 Toulouse 110117Senior executives from Iran Air and Airbus converged on Toulouse last Wednesday to witness the official handover of the first of 180 aircraft manufactured by either the French airline giant or its US competitor Boeing that are destined for Iran since the lifting of sanctions early last year, on what (more…)

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Vitol and NIOC pre-empt Trump with $1bn pre-finance Iranian oil deal

Vitol logoNIOC logoVitol, the world’s largest oil trader, has agreed to provide the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) with the euro equivalent of $1bn in exchange for a share in future oil product exports from Iran, it was being reported this week, in the first pre-finance deal to be signed between the Islamic Republic and a trading house since sanctions were lifted early last year.
The deal (more…)

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Concerns over Trump hard-line policy prompt BP to step back from Iran

Trump on IranLess than two months after deciding to exclude its US national CEO Bob Dudley from its attempts to capitalise on the potential of the Iranian oil industry, doubts over the policies that incoming President Donald Trump’s administration will adopt towards the Islamic Republic has prompted energy giant BP to stand back altogether, leaving the field open to its two biggest European rivals Royal Dutch Shell and Total. (more…)

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Obama hits Trump with new Russian sanctions and Arctic drilling ban

Navy Day Parade SevastopolOutgoing US President Barack Obama this week did his best to thwart his successor Donald Trump’s plans to improve relations with Moscow and to increase US oil and gas production by extending the sanctions imposed on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea while almost simultaneously withdrawing (more…)

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Italian regulators probe finances behind Glencore-Rosneft deal

Intesa SanpaoloFinancial regulators in Rome are examining whether Intesa Sanpaolo’s financing of Glencore‘s recent investment in Russian oil group Rosneft complies with sanctions imposed on Western companies conducting business with Russian concerns after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, it emerged yesterday.
Two weeks ago, (more…)

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EU extends Russian sanctions – but rift widens with Tillerson appointment

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Russian sanctions: As widely anticipated, European Union leaders last week voted to extend economic sanctions against Russia over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine for a further six months. There were, however, signs of a rift beginning to emerge between some East European countries – led by Poland (more…)

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Tillerson ready to question sanctions as Merckel and Hollande back extension

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex TillersonTillerson: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande yesterday put their collective weight behind a six-month extension of the package of economic sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea nearly three years ago; but the long-term future of the strategy is looking increasingly uncertain in the light of Donald Trump’s choice of Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State. Tillerson has long been known to have a good personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to be sceptical about the efficacy of the sanction strategy and this week claims have also emerged in several US media outlets that he had visited the White House more than 20 times in an effort to ensure that his company was not put at a competitive disadvantage by the manner in which the sanctions were imposed. The oil chief was said to be concerned that European nations might not apply the restrictions as strictly as the US. (more…)

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Rouhani threatens to revive nuclear programme after Senate votes for 10-year extension to Iran Sanctions Act

Isfahan nuclear plantIran’s President Hassan Rouhani yesterday called on outgoing US President Barack Obama not to sign a 10-year extension to Washington’s Iran Sanctions Act, amid reports that the Iranian parliament is preparing to table a motion that would give the government a mandate to resume its nuclear programme in retaliation. (more…)

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Tusk expects Russian sanctions to be extended – but for how long?

EU Council Chairman Donald TuskRussian sanctions: The odds are stacked in favour of Brussels extending its programme of sanctions against Russia when it reviews the situation in January, EU President Donald Tusk said yesterday, but it will be harder to hold the line (more…)

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BP US CEO Bob Dudley stands back from special Iranian task force

 BP CEO Bob DudleyBP has formed a special task force to study the investment potential of the Iranian oil industry in the post-sanctions era – but, in an attempt to mitigate the risk of the US sticking to its ban on any American involvement in the Islamic Republic, the team is to be headed by its UK-born CFO Brian Gilvary rather than US national CEO Bob Dudley. (more…)

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Total wins race to sign first energy deal with Iran since end of sanctions

South ParsFrance’s Total this week became the first western energy company to sign a major deal with Tehran since the lifting of international sanctions earlier this year by confirming that it had signed a heads of agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for (more…)

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Trade with Iran surges – but tensions in Gulf threaten to spoil Tehran’s party

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Tehran 02-16Trade with Iran: Germany became the latest country to report a jump in exports to Iran yesterday when it released official data showing that exports to the Islamic Republic, mainly of industrial plant and equipment, grew by 15% in the first half of the year following the removal of international sanctions.  (more…)

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Tehran Stock Exchange accepted for WFE membership

TSE chairman Hassan Qalibaf AslThe World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) has written to he chairman of of the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) approving the Iranian exchange’s membership of the 63-strong international trade association of publicly regulated stock, futures, and options exchanges, TSE chairman Hassan Qalibaf Asl confirmed this month. The move will ease Iranian capital’s entry into the global network of the stock exchanges and investors access to their data and information, he said.
TSE membership (more…)

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Turkey looks to boost trade with Russia to $100bn after Erdogan apologises

Turkish President Recip ErdoganErdogan apologises: Turkey hopes to increase annual trade with Russia to $100bn, its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said yesterday, highlighting Ankara’s hopes that (more…)

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