29 December 2021 - 23:54
  • News Code: 451124

Deputy Minister of Petroleum for International Affairs and Trading

No Backyard at Int’l Department

Comprehensive Investigations into Verification of Sanctions Removal on Agenda
No Backyard at Int’l Department

TEHRAN (Shana) -- The Deputy Minister of Petroleum said that comprehensive studies have been carried out on verification of lifting of the sanctions, adding: "In the international arena, no backyard should be formed in the Ministry of Petroleum (MOP) and the ground should be created for granting special privileges to some to occupy some international positions.”

On December 18, 2021, Ahmad Asadzadeh, after three months of serving as the caretaker of the international department of the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, was appointed as the deputy petroleum minister for international affairs and trading. He is now the number-one man of the department. Asadzadeh, who has a history of serving in the department, has remained silent for the past three months, despite several incidents in the international arena, including signing of a gas swap agreement between Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Now, Asadzadeh, in an exclusive interview with Shana, outlined his plans in his new post, and answered questions about the Turkmen gas swap contract from Iran to Azerbaijan, the latest status of Iranian gas export contracts and gas exports to Europe, attractive offers to Iran, relations with neighbors, etc.

The interview will be released in three installments.

Trading Section of International Department, Neglected

The Deputy Minister of International Affairs and Trading, defining energy diplomacy as emphasized by the Minister of Petroleum, said: “Energy diplomacy is a two-pronged category; the first is “What diplomacy can do for the oil industry to do its job?”, and the other is “What the oil industry can do to improve national security?”. Therefore, energy diplomacy is a double-faced coin. Anyone who wants to work in the field of energy diplomacy must look at both energy and national security. This has been specified in the Duties and Powers of the Ministry of Petroleum Act (International Section).”

Asadzadeh emphasized: “Of course, this department is administrative and does not interfere in the operational affairs of companies. In the meetings with my colleagues, I give the example that an operating company may want to take its product to a designated destination through a pipeline; in order to do this, it needs to do some preliminary work, such as leveling the ground, clearing land encumbrances, acquisition of new land, etc. The company can safely piping after the preliminary work. The status of the headquarters is similar to this, meaning that the headquarters’ units, such as the International Department, must create new playing fields for companies and try to align overlaps and stakeholders to do a single job, smooth the playing field, and then allow the companies to operate.”

He stated that the International Department should open new arenas for the sale of oil by organizing political and macro-level relations in the international arena, and provide new playing fields for companies. "Obviously, this is not an easy task and it is necessary to coordinate the stakeholders who are in conflict in some cases at the trans-ministerial levels. This is a staff and policy-making task and companies cannot work in this field. On the other hand, this department cannot and should not interfere in the details of the operational work, and it is not within the scope of work of the international and trade deputy to decide at what specifications and prices and to which specific buyer the oil is sold. Or suppose we want to operate a new framework that has not been practiced for investment and trade in the oil industry. First of all, excellent coordination and studies should be done in this department. The trade section in the title of this department has been neglected and needs to be given more serious attention.”

I Stand against Special Privileges

Emphasizing that the separation of these positions in the Ministry of Petroleum can significantly contribute to the development of energy diplomacy, the Deputy Minister of Petroleum for International Affairs and Trading stated: “In order to make the activities and interactions effected in the international arena of the Ministry of Petroleum, we need to create integration, coordination and coherence, and for this purpose, a single window for international interactions in the Ministry of Petroleum must be created.”

Asadzadeh continued: "I do not believe in any way that the various international issues of the Ministry of Petroleum should be under the organizational supervision of this department, because this is not necessary and sometimes it takes agility away, but I strongly believe that there should be a coordinating center for international interactions in the Ministry to coordinate all the departments that have contact with the international field.”

Explaining the coordination center, he said: "The first steps for such a goal are to form a" Foreign Relations Coordination Council of the Ministry of Petroleum" at the level of general executives of international affairs of the main MOP subsidiaries and also to form an" International Relations Committee" at the level of the minister and deputies for strategic policy in the field of international interactions.”

The Deputy Minister of Petroleum for International Affairs and Trading stressed: “In the international arena, a backyard should not be formed at MOP and a ground should be created for granting special privileges to some to occupy some of the international positions of the Ministry. Yes, I disagree with this and I have entered this field knowing that it costs a lot to enter such a backyard. Anyway, the main slogan of the 13th government and Mr. Raisi is to oppose special privileges, and we are ready to pay the price in this direction.”

Establishment of Specialized Working Groups in the International Department

Asadzadeh further announced establishment of specialized working groups in his department, relying on this view, and added: “With the same view that I stated at the beginning of this interview that in recent months, several specialized working groups have been set up in the Department for International Affairs and Trading. In other words, in addition to maintaining the national structure of this department, specialized working groups were also set up. Strategic Monitoring Working Group whose main purpose is analyzing the environment and market developments and political and geopolitical events and formulating the energy diplomacy program; Investment Working Group which aims to identify new frameworks for foreign investment and trade in the oil industry and policy implementation; Multilateral Cooperation Working Group that aims to activate the presence of the Ministry of Petroleum in multilateral agreements such as ECO, Shanghai, etc., as well as comparison with some other economic agreements in the world such as Eurasia, BRICS, Mercosur, etc.”

"The reality is that we did not make significant use of the capacity of these treaties, such as ECO," he said. “Or suppose about these unions and treaties that are formed with several countries. Can we not use multilateral bartering with the member states of a treaty? These are just some of the areas that can be pursued in multilateral activities.”

Sharp Decline in Export of Technical, Engineering Services

The official named the Technical and Engineering Services Export Working Group as another working group in his department, and said: "Previously, the issues that were referred to this department in this case were sent to companies in a scattered manner and we were unaware of their fate, so we took measures and formed this working group and the proposals and requests received for the export of technical and engineering services were formed in the form of a coherent working group chaired by the Deputy Minister of Engineering and Research of the Ministry of Petroleum and attended by representatives of specialized associations and relevant companies. Sometimes several companies refer to a government organ in another country at the same time, and in addition to competing with each other and destroying each other, they also ruin the country's reputation. It is the duty of the Ministry of Petroleum to organize these matter.”

Asadzadeh stated that in the export of technical and engineering services, due to these parallel works and incoherence, the situation is such that now the export of technical and engineering services has dropped sharply. According to the statistics of the Technical and Engineering Services Export Association of the country, in the late 2000s, with the support and export awards that were considered, a 38% increase in the exports of technical and engineering services began. Had the same trend continued, we would have reached $25 billion in exports of technical and engineering services by 2016, but in 2020, exports of technical and engineering services fell sharply to a total of ten percent from a decade earlier.

He continued: "This means that during this period, instead of 38% growth, we faced a decrease of 10% annually, and this situation is due to lack of organization and the lack of a specific custodian in this sector. As far as I know, this issue has not had a specific custodian in the Ministry of Petroleum so far, and God willing, we will witness a leap in this sector with the formation of this working group.”

3 MOP Proposals to ECO

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was first established by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey in 1962 as Regional Co-operation for Development (RCD). After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the work of the organization was halted and in 1985, it was revived under the title "ECO". After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan joined the organization. Extensive economic resources and capacities, especially in the mining, oil and gas and tourism sectors of the ECO member countries, have provided valuable capital to this important economic organization. The official language of the organization is English and its headquarters is located in Tehran.

Explaining Iran's presence in the recent ECO summit, the Deputy Petroleum Minister noted that three important and influential proposals were made at the meeting at the initiative of the Ministry of Petroleum by the Iranian President which was also included in the statement of ECO member states. The proposals were, firstly, creation of an energy consortium, meaning that a joint energy consortium will be set up by ECO member countries to implement joint projects. Secondly, establishment of the ECO Refiners Association, ie a refinery called ECO Refinery with joint ventures to serve as a multilateral platform and mechanism for ECO member countries. Thirdly, holding training courses between ECO member countries. Of course, this has happened before, but unfortunately it was shut off during the last two administrations, and with the follow-up, we managed to include this issue in the summit statement, as a document and a basis for cooperation between ECO member countries in the oil and gas sector.

Conducting Comprehensive Investigations into Veracity of Lifting of the Sanctions

Regarding the sanctions, Asadzadeh said: "The sanctions have their own complexities, and our effort is to take effective measures by lifting sanctions by participating in the lifting of sanctions with the P5 + 1 countries, which specifically targeted the oil industry. The important issue in this regard is the fact that we have conducted a comprehensive study on the lifting of sanctions, and the results have been conveyed to the relevant `authorities.

End of part 1...

News Code 451124

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