New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi nominated Javad Owji as oil minister on Wednesday as the country struggles with crippling U.S. sanctions that have blocked most of its crude sales in recent years.

Raisi, a hardliner under Western sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses when he was a judge, was sworn into office on Aug. 5.

Owji, a former deputy oil minister, still needs the parliament’s vote of confidence.

He held several managerial positions in Iranian energy firms, especially in gas sector, including managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), and head of Iran Gas Development Engineering Company.

Owji also held top positions in Mofid Economics Group and Petro Mofid Development Holding, two subsidiaries of Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam – according to the oil ministry’s news agency SHANA.

Setad is one of the most powerful organisations in Iran that is directly supervised by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Setad’s holdings of real estate, corporate stakes and other assets total about $95 billion, Reuters calculated in 2013.

Iran’s previous oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said in July his successor’s main task would be lifting oil exports that have been hammered by the sanctions. Zanganeh held the post at the heart of Iran’s economy for 16 of the past 24 years.

The U.S. and Iran began in mid-June their sixth round of indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal that former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018.

Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, leading refiners in many countries to shun Iranian crude and forcing Tehran to pump well below capacity.

Iran sits on the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and relies heavily on oil revenues.

If and when the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden and the Iranian government agree a deal that results in the lifting of sanctions, Iran plans to increase output to 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd) from the current 2.1 million bpd, according to oil ministry officials.

Raisi has backed talks to be rid of sanctions. He named an anti-Western diplomat as foreign minister

Source » reuters