Iran's Cabinet Approves New Amended Oil, Gas Contracts
DUBAI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Iran's cabinet approved on Wednesday an amended draft for the country's new oil and gas contracts, Iranian official media reported.
"The draft of the general conditions, structure and patterns of the upstream petroleum and gas contracts which included more than 150 minor and major changes ... was given final approval in today's cabinet meeting," the Iranian oil ministry's news agency, SHANA, said.
The launch of the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) has been postponed several times as hardline rivals of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani resisted any deal that could end the buy-back system, under which foreign firms were banned from owning stakes in Iranian companies.
Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said last month that no new oil and gas contracts for international companies would be awarded without necessary reforms.
The Islamic Republic is ramping up oil production and reclaiming market share after the lifting of Western sanctions in January.
However, oil majors have said they would go back to Iran only if it made major changes to the buy-back contracts of the 1990s, which companies such as France's Total said made them no money or even incurred losses.
SHANA said the approved amendments stipulate that contracts should clearly mention the rights, commitments and responsibilities of all parties in areas such as accounting and auditing, method of financial payment or repayment, technical inspection and maintenance.
The contracts should also include details on production measurement methods, human resources training, health, safety and environment, imports and exports, insurance, terms of contract termination, force majeure and dispute settlements.
Iran's oil ministry was tasked with approving an overview of the contracts including the agreed price, duration and other general conditions, SHANA said.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Dale Hudson and Louise Heavens)