World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran's oil minister lashed out at the United States on Sunday, saying that hostile comments by President Donald Trump had torpedoed new oil and gas contracts for Iran.
"For the past year, every three or four months, he has destabilised the market. One cannot say that this is not without effect," he said.
The agreement in July 2015 of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers sparked keen interest among international investors keen to focus on the country's petroleum riches.
But Trump's arrival in the White House a year ago, and his regular denunciations of the deal with Iran and the country in general, cooled their ardour.
Zanganeh revealed that Tehran was currently negotiating with "more than 20 foreign companies" to develop its oil and gas fields.
"But I dare not name the projects that are near to being agreed. If I do so, from tomorrow there will be pressure for them not to sign contracts with us," he said.
Some countries "both at the international and regional level" are exerting pressure on European and Asian firms not to agree contracts with Iran, Zanganeh added, without naming them.
However, he did say he was optimistic about a $5-billion (four-billion-euro) contract signed last July with the French group Total, which heads a consortium with China's CNPC to develop a gas field.
"I consider that Total is very serious... I hope it will implement the accord and I think that in a short period of time, it will sign agreements with subcontractors," Zanganeh said.
He added that Iran had planned measures "if the deal ever runs into trouble" because of pressure from the United States.
The government of the economically-ravaged country has for many years heavily subsidized petrol and Maduro says this has now led to a voracious black market in oil smuggled to neighbouring countries.
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