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Iran's Rouhani to address oil CEOs in Davos

The Islamic Republic is stepping up efforts to win back investments from oil companies.

FILE: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AFP.

DAVOS, Switzerland - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address a panel of top global oil executives on Thursday as the Islamic Republic steps up efforts to win back investments from oil companies as part of its rapprochement with the West.

Rouhani will give a short speech to chief executives from oil majors such as Eni, BP, Total and Shell, according to several executives who meet on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.

Heads of US companies such as Exxon Mobil could also attend, the executives said.

Tehran wants Western oil companies to revive its giant ageing oilfields and develop new oil and gas fields once sanctions are lifted and is improving its oil investment contract in order to lure them in.

The major OPEC producer has started implementing a nuclear deal with world powers, a step towards a broad settlement which could lead to the end of sanctions.

Western sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear program have choked Tehran's production - output is down a million barrels per day (bpd) since the start of 2012 to 2.7 million bpd - costing billions in lost oil revenue.

Top Iranian officials say the country can raise production to 4 million bpd within six months of sanctions being lifted. Western experts are more conservative, saying 3 million to 3.5 million bpd is more likely.

Encouraged by a preliminary nuclear deal struck between Iran and Western powers in November, Tehran and Big Oil have wasted no time making contact, in the hope of a full lifting of sanctions.

Paolo Scaroni of Italy's Eni was the first Western CEO to meet publicly with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries last month.

Click here for a special feature on this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.

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