Iran oil: Six key people

04 April 2008

The six most prominent people in Iran’s oil sector: Gholamhossein Nozari, Seifollah Jashnsaz, Seyed Mahmoud Mohaddes, Hojatollah Ghanimifard, Ali Kordan and Davoud Danesh-Jafari.

Gholamhossein Nozari

Position: Oil Minister

Biography: Gholamhossein Nozari’s rise to become Iranian Oil Minister following the sacking of Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh in August 2007 has united the notoriously divisive Majlis (parliament). When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in late 2005, the Majlis rejected three of his nominees for the crucial oil portfolio, saying they lacked experience. However, Nozari, who previously headed the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), has impressed parliament since taking up the post in November 2007. He held the top role at NIOC from January 2006. Previous posts include management of Iran’s central oil fields and personnel and oil field security. Nozari also headed the defence committee, which protected oil facilities during the Iran-Iraq war, and won seats in the fourth and fifth parliaments, holding places on the energy and budget and planning committees.

Contact Tel: (+9821) 6615 2215

Seifollah Jashnsaz

Position: Managing director, NIOC

Biography: Seifollah Jashnsaz was appointed managing director of NIOC in the last week of February 2008 after former head Nozari took over the Oil Minister’s role permanently. There was speculation that Nozari might retain the top job at NIOC, but it was felt in government circles that the position should be offered to a subsidiary head at the national oil company to allow the firm’s strategy to be separated from the ministry. Jashnsaz was previously managing director of the subsidiary, National Iranian South Oil Company (Nisoc). Jashnsaz was keen to encourage foreign investment at Nisoc, which pumps more than 80 per cent of Iran’s crude oil, although talks with foreign majors including China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) did not result in any exploration deals. Before joining Nisoc, Jashnsaz was responsible for the redevelopment of the southern oil fields at NIOC after the Iran-Iraq war.

Contact Tel: (+9821) 6615 2929

Seyed Mahmoud Mohaddes

Position: Exploration director, NIOC

Biography: Seyed Mahmoud Mohaddes, exploration director at NIOC, is one of the state-run firm’s longest-serving directors, after taking up the exploration role in 1997. His position has focused on expanding existing exploration activity in the country, mainly by attempting to lure foreign oil majors to commit to investment programmes. Mohaddes has failed to lift Iranian production much, with crude output hovering at about 4.2 million barrels a day (b/d), compared with 3.8 million b/d when he took on the job a decade ago. Yet despite the current US sanctions against Tehran, an increasing number of oil majors are looking into Iran’s energy sector as opportunities are slow elsewhere. Mohaddes, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mines and engineering from Tehran Polytechnic University (1979), first joined NIOC in 1982. From 1993-97, he served as deputy director of exploration at the company.

Contact Tel: (+9821) 6615 2929

Hojatollah Ghanimifard

Position: Director of international affairs, NIOC

Biography: Hojatollah Ghanimifard, director of international affairs at NIOC since the 1990s, is another long survivor of Tehran’s tumultuous energy sector. Since taking over his role more than a decade ago, he has acted as the government’s spokesman on a multitude of issues including Iran’s petrol rations strategy, its recent preference to price oil revenues in dollars rather than euros, and its policy on gas exports. He is held in high regard in the Tehran government, confirmed by his appointment in early 2007 as NIOC’s chief Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline negotiator. Prior to taking on the international affairs position, Ghanimifard held several other financial roles at NIOC in Tehran. In addition to his current job, Ghanimifard has been vice-president of NIOC International, deputy minister of commercial affairs at Iran’s Petroleum Ministry and deputy minister for foreign trade at the Commerce Ministry.

Contact Tel: (+9821) 8894 0301

Ali Kordan

Position: Deputy Oil Minister

Biography: Shortly after Nozari was appointed Iranian Oil Minister, the announcement of a newly created deputy position, to be filled by Ali Kordan, came as a surprise to those in the industry. Kordan was thought to have spurned a similar deputy offer by Nozari’s predecessor, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, in 2007. Kordan has little experience in the energy industry but has a steady, if undistinguished, record in government, most recently as deputy minister of labour. His appointment was viewed by analysts as the latest move by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to tighten his grip over the key Iranian ministry office. Kordan held the posts of deputy for parliamentary and provincial affairs at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (Irib) and head of the administrative affairs department. He was also deputy minister for culture and Islamic guidance for administrative and financial affairs.

Contact Tel: (+9821) 6615 2215

Davoud Danesh-Jafari

Position: Economy & Finance Minister; head of Iranian Oil Bourse

Biography: Davoud Danesh-Jafari, Iran’s Economy & Finance Minister, was thrust into the oil spotlight last month after Oil Minister Nozari appointed him head of the Iranian Oil Bourse, a commodity exchange for oil products. Danesh-Jafari has a difficult task in trying to achieve sufficient liquidity in the local bourse, and is expected to be given the job of listing the bourse’s shares on global stock exchanges. Danesh-Jafari graduated with a civil engineering degree from India’s University of Kashmir, followed by a doctorate from the faculty of economy at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabaei University. He is a member of the Monetary & Credit Council and of the High Council of Banks. Prior to joining the Finance Ministry, Danesh-Jafari was involved in construction roles in Tehran, eventually becoming deputy minister for construction and deputy minister for planning in the 1990s.

Contact Tel: (+9821) 8808 3380

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