Iranian Numbers

I am in Tehran with the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, who are here to sign an exploration agreement in the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea.

After the signature ceremony we attend a sumptuous party hosted by our Iranian partner, which goes on late. This deal has been more than two years in the making, and we celebrate.

I am up very early the next day to catch the morning flight to London, feeling dreadful. It is not a hangover, since alcohol is illegal in the Islamic Republic, but it feels very like one. I pay my hotel bill (in US dollars, of course) and wait for the directors to appear.

The Chief Exec appears. He looks bad. He goes to settle his bill, which comes to $201. Unfortunately he only has $50 and $100 notes, and the hotel has no change. He asks if I have a dollar bill, and I hand him one. Dollars are the preferred currency in Iran, the only thing about the Great Satan that they like. $1 dollar bills are essential.

The COO appears. He looks even worse. His bill comes to $151 – another very Iranian number.  I hand him a dollar too.

The horror of the situation hits me. Here I am in a hotel lobby in Tehran, before dawn, in poor condition, handing dollar bills to my client’s most senior directors.

The good news is that it is unlikely that the hotel’s CCTV cameras are working.

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.