x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Former Iranian oil minister set for return

Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani is expected to restore the respected former oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, to the post he held for eight years until hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to office in 2005.

DUBAI // Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani is expected to restore the respected former oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, to the post he held for eight years until hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to office in 2005, an industry source said yesterday.

Zanganeh had helped attract billions of dollars of foreign investment into Iran's vast oil and gas industry and was seen as being insulated from political attacks on the administration by the strong support of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

But since then, Iran has been hit hard by United Nations, US and European Union sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme.

US and EU sanctions on the oil industry, shipping and financial transactions have cut Iran's oil exports by about a half since they went into force last year, helping to devalue the country's currency, and pushing up inflation.

Mr Rouhani has pledged a less confrontational approach to Iran's relations with the outside world after his inauguration on August 4.

The moderate, mid-ranking imam seems likely name his cabinet straight away.

Iranian officials were not available to comment on the report by the source yesterday.

Mr Zanganeh's re-appointment would probably indicate a return to stability after a revolving door of four men in control of the vital ministry under Mr Ahmadinejad.