In January 2016, international sanctions were lifted following the ‘nuclear deal’ with Iran. Since then, Iran has been busy sorting out barriers to trade and cooperation with countries around the world, notably Germany and Japan. Last week was the UK’s turn. The Iranians were looking for aircraft and energy and water project finance.
i2O’s CEO Joel Hagan was invited to the Ambassador’s residence (only reopened in August last year) for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with UK Export Finance followed by dinner, and on the following day to a roundtable on water.
Minister Hamid Chitchian and his colleagues set out the challenges that Iran faces in terms of water: 15 years of drought in a region that only experiences an average 250mm of precipitation in any event; over-abstraction of surface and ground water; an ageing infrastructure; non-revenue water levels of up to 30%; state subsidy of the full cost of water and sewage. The topography creates its own challenge: potable water travels 700km and is pumped up to 1,000 metres. The country is planning new desalination plants and building large numbers of new dams. A total of $12bn is expected to be invested over the next 5 years.
i2O presented its capability to the Iranian delegation, encouraging them to think about sweating their existing assets as well as building new ones. The presentation was well received.