Iran would seem like a shaky bet for oil companies: The U.S. president-elect has threatened to withdraw from a deal reached last year that lifted international sanctions on the Persian Gulf nation in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. During his election campaign, Trump called dismantling the deal "my No. 1 priority."
But Shell's move toward developing oil and gas fields in Iran suggests at least some of the big, integrated oil companies expect the agreement between Iran and several world powers — including the United States — to stay in place.
France's Total last month announced it would develop a massive natural gas field in Iran, and other European energy companies are actively exploring their options in the oil- and gas-rich country. Among the six powers that signed the Iran deal last year were European countries France, Germany, Great Britain and Russia.
American oil companies are prohibited from doing business with Iran due to separate, unilateral U.S. sanctions that remain.
Shell declined to comment on Trump's statements, but confirmed that it has signed a deal with the National Iranian Oil Co. "to further explore areas of potential cooperation."
Total did not immediately return requests for comment.