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"Switzerland is also home to two Iranian oil firms - Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO) and Petro Suisse Intertrade Company - which both feature on U.S. sanctions lists. NICO, an oil trading firm owned by the Iranian government, was added to the EU blacklist in October... The Alpine country's decision to stay neutral on the EU oil embargo and the presence of NICO were raised at a meeting in London in October between Swiss officials responsible for sanctions policy and British Foreign Office representatives, according to a third western diplomatic source... And while two Iranian oil companies, NICO and Petro Suisse, have so far escaped Swiss sanctions, another Swiss-based Iranian oil and gas services company, Pearl Energy, was added to a Swiss sanctions list last November." (Reuters, "West raises pressure on neutral Switzerland over Iran," 11/5/2012)
"In Tuesday's list, the European Union also targeted NIOC subsidiaries, such as Naftiran Intertrade Company, as well as the National Iranian Gas Company and National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution... Naftiran owns a 10 percent stake in the Shah Deniz project in Azerbaijan which is co-led by BP and Norway's Statoil and which is estimated to contain 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas. The senior EU official said sanctions were structured to protect the Azeri project from financial impact." (Reuters, "EU sanctions target Iran oil, gas, tanker companies," 10/16/2012)
"Some firms on the list already are the targets of federal sanctions. They include the state-run Petroleos de Venezuela, the Belorussian firm Belarusneft, China's Zhuhai Zhenrong Co., Singapore's FAL Oil Co. and Kuo Oil, and Switzerland-based Naftiran. Others, including Angola's Sonangol, reportedly have pulled out of Iran in response to international sanctions." (The Baltimore Sun, "22 companies are listed for alleged Iran ties, sanctions," 9/17/2012)
"Azerbaijan plans to exclude Naftiran Intertrade Co., a partner in the BP Plc-led Shah Deniz natural- gas development, from a pipeline project to Europe from the Caspian region. Nico’s participation in the Trans-Anatolia pipeline or other pipelines is not being considered,' Vaqif Aliyev, head of State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan’s investments department, said by e- mail, referring to Naftiran, which is a unit of National Iranian Oil Co. 'It has not been invited to join.' Nico holds 10 percent of Shah Deniz, which is estimated to contain 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas, enough to supply demand in the European Union for about 2 1/2 years. Norway’s Statoil ASA (STL), France’s Total SA (FP), Turkiye Petrolleri AO and Moscow-based OAO Lukoil are Shah Deniz partners with BP and Socar, as the Azeri company is known . . . 'Let’s see if it is even possible for Nico to stay in the Shah Deniz consortium,' said Philipp Chladek, an energy analyst at Bloomberg Industries. It is unlikely any company from Iran will be able to participate in international projects given current tensions, he said . . . 'In independent projects like this, the selection of shareholders and their stakes are agreed upon mutually by the partners in accordance with their strategies and interests,' Aliyev said, without elaborating on the reason for sidelining Iran." (Bloomberg, "U.S. Ally Azerbaijan to Exclude Iran From Gas Pipeline to Europe," 8/1/12)
"The Naftiran Intertrade Company, an oil-trading firm owned by the Iranian government, announced plans to close its registered headquarters in the British tax haven of Jersey and move to a tax haven in Asia . . . NICO jumped from Jersey before it was pushed. The firm, which is essentially the offshore arm of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), dissolved its base on the Channel isle on January 8 with a 'certificate of continuance' that indicated it would move to the tax haven of Labuan, an island off the coast of Malaysia. 'The company decided it would be best to move their business elsewhere,' said a person close to the Jersey government. 'They were aware of government concerns. They had very close links to the Iranian regime, a bit too close' . . . The National Iranian Oil Company relies on NICO as an important source of foreign exchange. If NICO was to shut altogether, analysts say, it would starve the NIOC of cash and put it at the mercy of Iran's squabbling political elites and clerics." (Reuters, "Special Report - For Iran oil trader, Western ties run deep," 2/16/12)
"The State Department placed Naftiran, a subsidiary of Iran's national oil company, on a financial blacklist, barring it from doing business with or in the United States or with US institutions...The US accusses Iran of using revenue from...Naftiran to fund its suspect nuclear program and to hide purchases of dual-use equipment and technology" (AP, "US hits Iranian energy firm with sanctions," 9/30/2010).
Naftiran is an Iranian government-funded energy company based in Switzerland that has recently undertaken a number of lucrative joint ventures with European oil companies. Naftiran posted revenues of $21.9 billion in 2008, and buys the vast majority of Iran's petroleum imports. It is becoming increasingly clear that Naftiran plays a vital role in Iran's global economic strategy, and U.S. officials believe that Naftiran's investment decisions are at least partly made by the Iranian parliament (Time, "Sleeping with the enemy," 6/16/2010).
Most concerning are Naftiran's joint ventures with British Petroleum. In the North Sea, BP and Naftiran subsidiary Iranian Oil Company are 50-50 joint partners in the Rhum gas field project, which generates 1% of the UK's daily consumption, or $1 million of natural gas per day. The total value of the Iranian Oil Company's projects in the North Sea is $794 million (Time, "Sleeping with the enemy," 6/16/2010).
Naftiran has also partnered with BP in the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan, a project that now produces 8 billion cubic meteres of natural gas per year - one of the largest gas fields in the world. BP owns 25.5% of this venture, while Naftiran owns 10%. ConocoPhillips-owned Lukoil also holds 10%. The second phase of Shah Deniz is expected to produce $16 billion, and Naftiran plans to invest $1.7 billion (Time, "Sleeping with the enemy," 6/16/2010).
Naftiran is a major BP shareholder, with over $775 million in shares. The company also retains complete ownership of the Hood gas field in the North Sea, and maintains joint projects with Shell in Senegal (Company Website).