Europeans at Iran Oil Show don’t seem shaken by U.S. decision

Europeans at Iran Oil Show don’t seem shaken by U.S. decision

TEHRAN – European exhibitors participating in the 23rd International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition of Iran (Iran Oil Show 2018) believe that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision on leaving the Iran nuclear deal (officially known as JCPOA) was not something unpredictable and they are still eager for collaborating with Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

The exhibition, which was held at the Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds from May 6 to 9, hosted some 4,000 domestic and foreign companies from 38 countries including Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, China, South Korea, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

To get an idea about the viewpoints of European and Asian companies regarding business in Iran, the Tehran Times conducted interviews with representatives of a number of companies attending the exhibition.

Iran’s market still attractive for Europeans

Stefan Tourne a Key Account Manager at IGEMA GMBH, which is a German manufacturer of Boiler Monitoring systems and provider of Heat & Steam Technology, believes that Iran’s oil industry has great potential and there is great interest from the German companies active in this area for entering Iran’s market.

Describing the progress in Iran Oil Show 2018, Andrea Zucchini, former Italian politician, President of I-Pars, company that collaborates with the ICE agency, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Embassy and Consulate and also cooperate with the Confindustria Emilia: Confindustria is the major representation association of manufacturing and service companies in Italy, said Iran Oil Show is getting bigger and better every year and there is a great number of Italian companies which are participating this year and many more which are very interested in Iran’s market but could not be in this exhibition this year.

About the Italian companies’ attitude toward Iran, Zucchini said, “I am working with a large number of Italian companies and I know for a fact that the interest in Iranian market is growing more and more every day.”

When asked about the effect of Trump’s decision on Italian companies’ policies toward Iran he noted,
“We have worked with Iran during the previous sanctions and since, it will become a little tougher doing business with Iran if Trump imposes new sanctions and tightens the restrictions, however we will continue working in Iran just like we did in the past.”

“I am working in close collaboration with the Italian government and I am sure that even those [European companies] who are hesitant about coming to Iran should know that Iran is a great market and has huge potential and whoever invests in Iran will definitely benefit,” he added.

Describing Iranian market, another Italian participant, Raffaele Pittaluga, the managing director of Italian Klinger Group, which is a renowned international supplier of sealing and fluid control solutions, said “Iran is a huge market and in my opinion most of the European companies and especially Italian companies are eager to enter this very lucrative market.”

Asked about his evaluation of the exhibition he said, “It is very interesting, very big for sure….it was absolutely interesting to be here.”

Pittaluga further mentioned his company’s 100-year history in oil and gas industry saying that, “It has been over one year that our company started collaborating with Iranian companies and we had some serious talks which hopefully will result in some positive cooperation in the future.”

Asked about Trump’s recent decision on abandoning the JCPOA and its effects on the Italian companies’ strategies and policies toward Iran, Pittaluga said, “Italy and EU are basically against that decision and hopefully we will continue our activities in Iran, however the politics always affect economic relations, so we should wait and see.”

“The European Union today said they are against the decision but how strong they will be in their positions will have a great impact on the future of European companies’ activities in Iran….I believe they strongly support their companies,” he further added.

The representative of the Spanish pavilion who didn’t want his identity to be revealed said, “Spain has been here [the exhibition] for many years and I think after the sanction the show has got better and better.”

He said, “Iran is a very good market and there are a lot of Spanish companies which are interested in collaborating in Iran’s oil and gas industry. There are near 15 Spanish companies participating in this year’s exhibition and that shows how eager Spanish companies are for entering Iran’s market.”

French Companies seeking solid relations

Agnès Hagyak, the oil and gas project manager in Business France, a big agency in charge of promoting France abroad, who was the organizer of French pavilion in the exhibit, said “It is our fourth time being in this exhibition and I think it is one of the biggest event in the world’s oil and gas industry.”

Explaining the eagerness of the French companies for Iran’s oil and gas industry she noted, “There are more than 30 companies in our pavilion and this year all of them managed to partner up with an Iranian company, so it proves that the French companies are really eager for cooperation with Iranian counterparts.”

“They are not here just to sell a product but they are here to collaborate and create and to transfer knowledge, and this indicates the solid relationship they are seeking with Iran,” she explained.

Working with Iranian company Pars Mateh, Raphael Souchal, a sales manager at Drillstar Industries which is a France-based company designing and producing oil & gas drilling equipment, said, “Since we have been back in Iran after the removal of the sanctions Iran Oil Show has been growing bigger and better.”

“Iran oil and gas industry is enormous, one of the best and biggest in the world for investment, it can offer a lot for interested companies especially in services sector and that is what exactly most of the European companies are after”, he said.

Asked about the U.S. decision on leaving the nuclear deal, Souchal said, “The declarations from the European Union were very clear and neat last night, I mean they supporting the agreement and our government especially is fully supporting the French companies for continuing their activities in Iran, however this is very new [Trump’s decision] so we should wait and see.”

“So far Iranian government and the EU are working very closely together and that’s how we want things to go on in the future,” he added.

Asian participants, eager but cautious

Kang Dae Ung, the general manager of sales and process department at JHK Heaters Company which is active in construction, maintenance, and revamping of fired heaters and air cooled condensers in South Korea, believed that South Korean companies do not know much about Iran’s market and the two countries should take necessary measures for the both sides’ companies to get to know each other and engage in activities like delegation exchanges and attending exhibitions like Iran Oil Show.

Kang said his company has been very active in Iran and they have been in the exhibition for the last 10 editions.

“There exhibition has been progressing each year during these last 10 editions, both in terms of the number of exhibitors and the quality,” he said.

“There are lots of Korean companies who are very eager and willing to invest in Iran but they don’t know how, and they are still afraid of the U.S. sanctions”

Kenichi Saito, a senior executive director of Japan’s International Services Corporation (ISC), which was the organizer of the Japanese pavilion in the exhibition said, “We first came to this exhibition in 2016, that was the time when the sanctions were removed and lots of Japanese companies were flocking to be the firsts to enter Iran’s market.”

“This year too, there are renowned Japanese companies like Mitsubishi participating in the event and they have had some serious negotiations with Iranian companies regarding providing them with the company’s licenses and technology”, he said.

Asked the same question regarding the U.S. sanctions, Saito said, “Of course it’s a new situation, it may limit our activities, it depends on the government, but to my knowledge since the Japanese government and the EU somehow follow the same policies and strategies toward Iran they will try to keep the JCPOA.”

“Japanese companies are very cautious, they will evaluate carefully before taking any actions”, he said.

“And of course until November, there is a 6-month period available before the sanctions come back, so we should use this window while we can,” he noted.