Bijan Namdar Zanganeh is known as the “sheikh of ministers” in Iran. Before 2005, he served a total of 22 years in ministererial positions, first as minister of construction jihad in Mir Hossein Mousavi’s government, then as minister of energy (water and power) in Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s Cabinet, and later as minister of petroleum in Mohammad Khatami’s administration. His departure from the ministry of petroleum in 2005 was accompanied by allegations by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the country was ruled by an “oil mafia,” an allegation that Ahmadinejad could not make stick in his eight years in office.
The return of Zanganeh as petroleum minister under President Hassan Rouhani has been welcomed by industry players and experts alike after years of mismanagement under Ahmadinejad. When one looks at Zanganeh's past performance, one finds that he actually had important achievements during his previous term as petroleum minister (1997 to 2005): attracting foreign investors, especially European companies; expanding the gas sector and increasing the role of gas in the domestic energy basket (freeing up oil for export); enlarging the petrochemical sector; and developing local companies to become prime contractors in the upstream sector (OIEC, Petropars, Pedco, and so on).