* Zarubezhneft met Iranian National Oil Co. head
* No particular projects were discussed
* Zarubezhneft says ready to work in Iran
MOSCOW, April 5 (Reuters) - Russian state-owned oil group Zarubezhneft met with Iranian officials on Thursday to discuss upstream oil projects in Iran amid international sanctions against Tehran, which Moscow has called “counterproductive”, a company source said.
A Zarubezhneft spokeswoman confirmed the meeting with Iranian officials but declined to elaborate. A source at the Russian Energy Ministry also said that an Iranian delegation was expected this week.
The meeting took place as Iran scours the globe for markets where it can sell its oil following sanctions imposed by the United States. Additional sanctions by the European Union, designed to force Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment activities, take effect starting from July 1.
The source said the head of the Iranian National Oil Co. Ahmad Ghalebani met Zarubezhneft officials in Moscow on Thursday.
“Particular projects were not discussed,” the source said, adding the meeting was more of a “Zarubezhneft presentation to Iranians.”
The source also reiterated Zarubezhneft’s desire to work in Iran “providing security guarantees and Russian government approval.”
Zarubezhneft, created during the Soviet period, represents Russian state interests in overseas oil projects. Its biggest project to date is in Vietnam, where it has run the Vietsovpetro joint venture with state firm Petrovietnam since 1981.
Tension around Iran’s nuclear programme have continued to rise and it has been the key factor behind a spectacular increase in oil prices, which are hovering at multi-months high.
Russia, which built Iran’s first nuclear power plant, has often stressed the need for talks and said too much pressure on Tehran was counterproductive, prompting critics to say it is helping Tehran play for time. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk and Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by James Jukwey)