Just finished a great week in London — a little sightseeing, some family time, and a surprising amount of sun for a spot famed for being grey and gloomy.
Also, some very interesting insights on one of the world’s most important emerging resource hotspots.
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As I mentioned in Prime Meridians last week, one of my aims on this trip was to find out more about what’s happening on the ground in post-sanctions Iran. With this country representing one of the biggest opportunities to come available globally in oil, gas, copper, gold and beyond.
As timing would have it, this actually turned out to be a big week for Iran. With the country’s government on Wednesday ratifying a long-awaited new contract model for oil and gas projects.
This is a development that’s been closely watched in the global energy industry. With the new contracts expected to address the long-standing issue in Iran’s petroleum sector where foreign firms were prohibited from owning in-ground reserves.
Few details have actually emerged yet on the final terms. But the fact that a new model has actually been agreed upon by the Iranian government is a major step. There had been some indications over the last few months that the new contracts might get quashed by conservative opposition in the country.
All of which is good news for resource developers. But as I found out during my meetings this week, even the world’s biggest players aren’t rushing to get into this space.
Contacts I met with in London’s legal and banking community — who have been recently visiting Iran and assisting major oil and gas corporations with country strategy — said that these firms are taking their time in making first moves on Iranian projects.
As these professionals explained, right now there are a lot of optics involved. With Iran’s current president Hassan Rouhani having less than a year left in his current mandate — with elections scheduled for May 2017.
My sources noted that big resource firms are reluctant to make deals with the Rouhani government ahead of these elections. Because doing so, they would be seen as affiliated with Rouhani — and therefore could come under fire if a more-conservative candidate wins the 2017 vote.
Rather, these firms are content to test the waters right now — having meetings, reviewing data, signing non-binding MOUs. Biding their time until the dust settles from the presidential vote, and the next four years of the political picture start to resolve.
All of the professionals I talked to agreed this a great time to be investigating the scene. I heard how a variety of minerals firms — Canadian, Australian, Turkish, Kazakh — have all started making calls on copper, gold and zinc projects in the country. Looking to see what’s available.
I’ve actually been doing likewise, and the ten or so projects I’ve reviewed so far in these spaces look very intriguing. In minerals development, size is king — and many of these prospects have footprints of mineralization and/or alteration that extend for kilometers-scale.
You don’t find that kind of size in too many places on Earth. Let alone spots where you can drive up on a highway — within sight of known massive deposits like Iran’s Sarcheshmeh copper mine, which hosts 1.2 billion tonnes of ore at a stellar 0.7% copper grade.
That data, and the cautiously encouraging talks this week, have convinced me more than ever this is a spot to visit sooner rather than later. Something I’ll be investigating over the coming weeks — one more potential slot in the travel schedule for the remainder of 2016.
Hope to have more for you on that soon. But first I’m off to the majestic Canadian Rockies for a week of hiking and camping — likely no Pierce Points next week, as I’ll be far away (and above) from Wi-Fi signal. Back at you the next week, all the best until then.