Iran signs agreement with Royal Dutch Shell to evaluate three oil, gas fields

Iran yesterday signed an agreement with Royal Dutch Shell to assess three of its largest oil and gas fields. Shell will evaluate the Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields near the Iraqi border, and the Kish gas deposit in the Persian Gulf, according to Gholam-Reza Manouchehri, deputy director of the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC).

''We're happy to resume working in Iran,'' Hans Nijkamp, Shell's vice president for Iran, said at the ceremony, Bloomberg reported. ''We are hoping to have a fruitful cooperation with NIOC on these fields.''

International oil companies had started re-establishing contact with Iran following the lifting of sanctions in January. However, no final contracts to develop oil fields had yet been signed. Meanwhile,  Total SA concluded a non-binding $4.8-billion agreement to develop a natural gas field last month.

According to Homayoun Falakshahi, and industry analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd, who spoke to Bloomberg on phone from London, the fields were some of Iran's most attractive. ''If you had a look at the list of the three or four biggest fields to be awarded, you have three of them here.''

Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell was the largest energy company to venture back into Iran since sanctions were lifted after the implementation of a nuclear deal in January. According to commentators the move could signal the controversial deal would remain intact despite threats to renegotiate or scrap it by president-elect Donald Trump, who had called the deal, signed by six world powers in late 2015, a "disaster" and the "worst deal ever negotiated."