The Austrian oil exploration group OMV has cancelled an oil lease venture with the Iranian regime in the Ahwaz region of Iran (also known as Khuzestan province), with Reuters quoting a statement from the company’s CEO Rainer Seele on Wednesday in which he said that it would be inappropriate at the present moment for the company to invest in projects in Iran, which is attempting to attract foreign investment to modernize its ageing oil infrastructure.
OMV had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in May of this year, four months after the lifting of international sanctions on Iran, after it agreed to reduce its nuclear program, with the Austrian firm planning several projects in the Ahwaz region, including the Khuyah and Kharkheh oilfields.
Speaking at a conference hosted by the London Centre for the Practice of International Law (LCPIL) in the British capital on March 7 and 8 of this year, officials from the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA) warned international oil companies against doing business with the Iranian regime, adding that ASMLA military wing would target oil facilities as a means of self-defence on behalf of the Ahwazi people.
During their presentation of a paper on ‘Arbitration and Dispute Resolution in the Energy Sector in the Middle East and Africa’ at the conference, the ASMLA delegates called for international oil companies to act in a timely manner rather than rushing to invest in the energy sector in the Ahwaz region in cooperation with the Iranian regime.
The ASMLA officials said that the oil and gas revenues obtained by the regime are used in the oppression and murder of both Ahwazi and other non-Iranian peoples, as well as Iranian dissidents, as well as in funding Tehran-affiliated terrorist groups which work to threaten security and undermine stability in the Arab world.
The regime’s actions put the onus on the international companies and investors dealing with the regime to take responsibility for their part in the theft of natural resources from the Ahwazi people and in helping to fund oppression and terror by trading with the brutal theocratic regime.
A few weeks later in April, ASMLA members staged a demonstration in front of OMV’s company headquarters in the Austrian capital Vienna urging the company not to invest in the Ahwaz oilfields, which the protesters pointed out would mean playing a direct role in the looting of the indigenous people’s wealth and natural resources.
During the protest, ASMLA members delivered a letter to company officials urging them to abandon their oil exploration deal with the Iranian regime which would have seen them prospecting for oil in the Ain Khuyeh area in the northwest of the Ahwaz region.
In the letter, the ASMLA warned that security conditions in Ahwaz are not as stable as the Tehran regime wishes to promote them as being, pointing out that the ASMLA’s military wing has carried out several military operations against oil facilities in the region in protest at the regime’s oppression and systemic injustices against the Ahwazi people.
The ASMLA further confirmed in the letter that its members retain their legitimate right to target oil installations in Ahwaz, including those of OMV, with the consequences of any such operations, including any harm befalling the company’s personnel there, being entirely the company’s own responsibility should they decide to launch oil exploration in the region in partnership with the regime. The Ahwazi freedom movement added that it would refuse any responsibility for OMV’s decision to place the lives of company personnel at risk.
This year has already seen several operations by the ASMLA’s military wing against oil installations in Ahwaz, the last of which was an attack on oil pipelines in the major Johor al Sabah oilfield on July 18.