Waiting for a new Iranian oil minister to take charge

Vol 9, PW 12 (22 Sep 05) People & Policy

Uncertainty over the appointment of a new Iranian oil minister has thrown into doubt the date of the next meeting of officials from India and Iran to discuss the overland pipeline.

In a little reported development, Iranian MPs in the countrys democraticallyelected parliament (Majlis) on 24th August rejected the appointment of Ali Saidloo as the countrys new oil minister, deeming him unfit to hold the post. This will influence the date of the next meeting between Indian and Iranian officials, reveals a source in touch with developments in Tehran.

They (Tehran) are still discussing and dont know when the next meeting will be held. Under Iranian parliamentary rules, President Mahmood Ahmadinejad must appoint a new oil minister within three months of Saidloos rejection by the Majlis, or latest by 24th November.

Until then, expect continued uncertainty. Saidloo, a close supporter of hardline Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, was appointed oil minister on 14th August to replace Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, a technocrat who held the post for eight years under president Mohammad Khatami.

In Delhi, oil ministry sources confirm they are still waiting for Tehran to suggest a date for the next meeting of the Joint Working Group, and predict this will be pushed back to the first week of October as key Indian officials will be away at the World Petroleum Congress in Johannesburg. I dont think the absence of an Iranian oil minister will have a big impact on the JWG meetings, an Indian ministry source tells us.

These meetings are at the secretary level and will continue to chug along. India and Iran held their first Joint Working Group meeting on 3rd and 4th August this year during the visit to Delhi of a six-member delegation from the National Iranian Gas Export Company, led by deputy Iranian oil minister Dr.

Nejad Hosseinien. Both sides agreed to hold the next JWG in Tehran at the end of this month something that now looks unlikely.