Iran Oil Officials in Beijing to Discuss Oil Supplies, Projects


BEIJING, April 7 (Reuters) - An Iranian delegation is in Beijing this week to push for more oil sales and discuss Chinese oil and gas investments in Iran, just days after Tehran and world powers reached a framework nuclear deal, Iranian oil officials told Reuters.

China is Iran's largest trade partner and oil client, having bought roughly half of Iran's total crude exports since 2012, when sanctions against Iran were tightened.

Amir-Hossein Zamaninia, Iran's deputy oil minister for commerce and international affairs said he and his colleagues would discuss China's oil and gas projects in Iran, while officials from state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) will meet with China's biggest crude buyers.

The NIOC and other officials are expected to meet with regular customers Unipec, the trading arm of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp, and state trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, which started taking Iranian crude in the mid-1990's when Tehran sought to repay arms purchases with oil.

The officials declined to comment directly on any plans to market more oil to China. Tehran and world powers reached a framework nuclear agreement on Thursday last week, with details still to be worked out on how sanctions would be phased out in exchange for reductions in uranium enrichment.

Iran, once the second-biggest exporter of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the world's fifth-largest producer, hopes to boost total exports by as much as one million barrels per day (bpd) in just two months once sanctions against it are finally lifted.

"It depends first on the willingness of the Chinese for buying Iranian crude, then everything goes through commercial negotiations," said Mohsen Ghamsari, NIOC director of international affairs, of any increase in China's purchases.


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