Royal Dutch Shell says it will repay a $2 billion debt to the National Iranian Oil Company when sanctions on Iran are lifted and consider investing in the country's vast energy sector. As Grace Pascoe reports the news came as the British government reopened the country's embassy in Tehran.
The Union flag flies again in Iran. Britain has reopened its embassy in Tehran four years after protesters stormed the compound leading to its closure. With diplomatic ties now thawing British companies want to be back in business in Iran. Royal Dutch Shell is one of them. Simon French is the Chief Economist at Panmure Gordon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SIMON FRENCH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, PANMURE GORDON, SAYING: "You only need to look at the numbers regarding commodity base in Iran, they have got nigh-on 9 percent of the known world oil reserves, they have about 18 percent of the worlds known gas reserves." The Anglo-Dutch energy giant was part the UK delegation visiting Iran. It's hoping to invest in the country's vast energy sector once sanctions are lifted. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SIMON FRENCH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, PANMURE GORDON, SAYING: "Shell will be followed by a series of other companies who will look to take advantage of what is not only a commodity story but also a very attractive demographic story. There is 73 million people in Iran of which 60 percent are under the age of 30. There is a fairly attractive growth potential there." Shell must first repay a 2 billion dollar debt to the National Iranian Oil Company before it can spend new money. And with western sanctions cutting Iran's oil exports by more than half, to around 1.1 million barrels per day. New opportunities may be welcomed on both sides.