National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Russian gas giant Gazprom have signed a memorandum of understanding covering several oil and gas projects potentially worth up to $40 billion, according to the Iran oil ministry’s official news agency, Shana.

The deal was signed during an online ceremony on Tuesday attended by NIOC chief executive Mohsen Khojasteh Mehr and Gazprom management committee deputy chairman Vitaly Markelov, Shana reported.

Under the terms of the MoU, Gazprom will help NIOC in “the development of the Kish and North Pars gas fields, pressure enhancement of South Pars field and development of six oil fields.”

According to the Shana report, the MoU also described “gas and product swaps, completion of LNG [liquefied natural gas] projects, construction of gas export pipelines and other scientific and technological co-operation” as “among the most important highlights of the memorandum”.

Iran is home to the world’s second-largest gas reserves, after Russia, but US sanctions have restricted the country’s access to technology and slowed the development of gas exports.

Khojasteh Mehr was quoted as describing the MoU as “one of the biggest foreign investments in the history of Iran’s oil industry”.

“The NIOC does not ignore any investment opportunity,” he noted.

“Iran and the Russian Federation are determined to secure and increase strategic co-operation in various fields.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran on Tuesday for talks with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi — his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Western nations have imposed strict economic sanctions on both countries in response to what are seen as threatening and unlawful foreign policies which, in Iran’s case, includes the Islamic republic’s nuclear research and development programme.

Putin’s diplomatic mission also included a face-to-face meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish leader met with Khameni in Tehran on Tuesday, ahead of Putin’s arrival and a “trilateral summit”.

Said to be on the agenda was Syria, food security and the wider implications of the war in Ukraine.

Trio: (from left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisia and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a news conference in Tehran Photo: AFP/SCANPIX

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