Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says the country welcomes the participation of American corporations in its oil projects, Press TV reported.
"We welcome the presence of American oil companies in Iran," Zangeneh has been quoted as saying by the country's local media. "We will definitely prepare the grounds for the presence of American oil companies in Iran".
Nevertheless, the Iranian minister emphasized that US businesses will still have to wait for the removal of sanctions that prevent them from investing in Iran.
At the moment, Zangeneh told the Persian-language newspaper Etemad, the American companies cannot invest in Iran due to the sanctions that the US government has put in place.
A series of sanctions approved by the US government and the Congress bar US businesses from investing in the Iranian oil sector projects.
Etemad wrote that ConocoPhillips, which had left Iran in 1995 due to sanctions, had voiced interest to return to the country on the sidelines of the OPEC conference in Vienna on Wednesday.
"We are always interested in opportunities," the daily has quoted ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan M. Lance as saying. "So once we reach a stage when the problems have been solved and US companies can return to Iran, we will of course consider that," he added.
Lance further emphasized that his company will nevertheless have to wait for the sanctions imposed on Iran to be removed.
The presence of American companies in Iran can help reduce the investment costs by creating a competitive environment, wrote Etemad. "It can also help bring new technologies to Iran," it added.
That may be the reason why, it added, Iran wants to unveil the new format of its oil contracts as soon as the sanctions against the country are lifted.
The daily further added that CEOs of several global energy majors including Total, Shell, Eni and Lukoil had visited Zangeneh at his hotel on Wednesday.
The Iranian minister had in December named Total, Shell, Eni, Statoil, BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil in his wish list of companies he wanted to see back in Iran.