Iran’s FM hints that his country could help Croatia reclaim oil fields in Syria

Source: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

"Croatia should think only about its own interests, Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, told the Vecernji List daily in an interview published which the state agency Hina summarized and published on Thursday.

“We welcome any action that serves the common interests of Croatia and Iran, both in energy and in other areas,” the Iranian foreign minister told Vecernji List’s Hassan Haidar Diab. He said that Iran had received queries from Europe “about stronger energy cooperation,” but noted that his country “did not want to be a substitute for Russia.”

“While five leading international media outlets have been waiting for a while for a positive reply to their requests for an interview with Amirabdollahian, he has decided to grant it to Vecernji List,” Hina said citing Vecernji List.

“Amirabdollahian spoke of obstacles to signing the nuclear agreement with global powers and answered questions about whether Russia was blocking the deal, as claimed by Americans,” Hina said, without clarifying.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, Amirabdollahian revealed that “three European countries had contacted Iran to express their interest in Iranian natural gas and oil.” Hina did not clarify which three.

“Another topic raised was the Middle East. The Iranian minister criticized the Croatian oil company Ina for abandoning the Moghan project and pulling out of an exploration project in a block in Iran for the duration of international restrictions imposed on Iran,” Hina said.

In 2008 Croatia’s Ina had partnered up with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and signed a $141 million deal to develop the onshore Moghan-2 oil block in Iran’s northwest province of Ardebil. However, in May 2013 Ina said that it had pulled out of Iran in 2012 due to international sanctions imposed against that country.

“Given Iran’s influence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Amirabdollahian said that Iran was ready to assist Croatia and Ina in reclaiming the oil fields in Syria if the Croatian side requested so,” Hina said, citing Vecernji List.

Before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Ina had leased and operated oil and gas fields in Syria on a location some 250 kilometers north of capital Damascus. According to local media, the project brought Ina $780 million in revenue every year before the Croatian government decided to join sanctions against Syria in February 2012 which meant pulling out all Croatian staff and essentially abandoning the project.

“As for nuclear talks, Amirabdollahian said that the talks on lifting the sanctions, held in Vienna in March, came closer to an agreement than ever before. He added that the Americans did not react realistically and raised some new issues,” Hina said, citing Vecernji List, without clarifying.

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