Tehran — Veteran Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh has said he will not continue in his role once a new president is inaugurated after elections scheduled next month, ministry-run news service Shana reported May 17.
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"I am retired." said Zanganeh, 69, a technocrat politician with 20 years of service in various ministerial offices. "But I will remain in politics."
His departure comes at a critical moment for Iran's oil industry, which is poised to return unrestricted to the market pending an agreement on nuclear sanctions with international powers. Amid negotiations, Tehran has ratcheted up production in recent months and succeeded in finding customers from its crude in China, according to market sources.
Much of Iran's production is of heavier grades and condensate, and a relaxation of the sanctions will put pressure on the likes of neighboring Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Oman, and even Texas frackers. Its April output of 2.43 million b/d is a 130,000 b/d increase from March and its highest since May 2019, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey.
Zanganeh is seen as a key figure in building Iran's influence within OPEC and an experienced negotiator with international oil companies. His policy of opening the country's oil sector to western companies before sanctions was criticized by hardliners, who are seen dominating upcoming presidential elections on June 18.
His imminent departure could also create a void of experience at the top of Iran's oil industry, coming a year after the death last May of its experienced former OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour.