Lukoil Maneuvering for Return to Iran After Sanctions End

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OAO Lukoil, the Russian oil producer with the most assets abroad, is positioning itself for a return to Iran when sanctions are lifted.

Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov met with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh in Vienna today. They discussed potential developments, including the Azar and Changuleh onshore deposits, according to a person familiar with the meeting, asking not be identified because the discussions are private.

“We’re just studying” the situation, Alekperov said in Vienna after the meeting. “We would like to return to those fields where we know the geology.”

Russia’s second-largest oil producer has expanded abroad as the government limited access to reserves at home. Lukoil discovered the Iranian fields in 2005, together with Statoil ASA, before writing off projects in Iran in 2010 following sanctions by the U.S. and its allies over the nation’s nuclear research program.

Lukoil is interested to return after sanctions have been removed, which “depends on the politicians,” Alekperov said. “The company worked in Iran for a pretty long while.”

Alekperov also discussed offshore exploration opportunities in the Iranian part of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf as well as the Abadan region, the person said. Lukoil is the largest producer in the Russian Caspian and also has a natural-gas project in Azerbaijan’s part of the Caspian.

Lukoil has projects in Iraq, West Africa, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

Alekperov also met today with Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi to discuss higher natural gas prices sought by Lukoil for its discoveries at Saudi Block A, the person said.