German firms to attend Teheran oil show

Conflicting reports on German funding of exhibition; foreign attendance reportedly up 25% from last year.

Iran oil 248.88 (photo credit: )
Iran oil 248.88
(photo credit: )
Three days after the German government decided to boycott the UN's Durban II conference in Geneva, The Jerusalem Post has learned that German companies have representatives attending Iran's 14th International Exhibition of Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Industries taking place in Teheran this week. There are conflicting reports about German government funding for the trade show. According to Nadine Gold from the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, the Economics Ministry is funding "an association exhibit" with German firms at the oil show. A German government spokesman, however, told the Post that the "trade show is not being sponsored" this year. Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration has not funded trade shows in Iran since last year, he said. The Iran Oil Show Web site shows a list of companies, including a large number of German ones, that were present at the 2008 trade event in Teheran, but has not updated the list for 2009. Ruth Rogers, a spokeswoman for the British company Orient Exhibitions Ltd., which is listed on the Web site as the organizer of the show, told the Post that a list of firms at the 2009 event would "appear on the Web site at the end of May." She said it was Orient's "company policy" to not publish the names of the companies at this stage. German firms frequently do not make their ties with the Islamic country public, to protect their reputations. Many Western energy companies, including France's Total, were attending the show, the Middle East Newsline Web site reported. The exhibition attracted a record turnout of 450 foreign companies - 25 percent more than in 2008 - including five unidentified US firms, the organizers said, according to the site. Daniela Deubel, a spokeswoman for the German engineering firm BARTEC, which provides security technology to the gas, oil and chemical sectors, told the Post that BARTEC was present at the 2009 trade show. While declining to cite the firm's trade volume with the country, Deubel said, "Iran is a small part of our business." "We are not in Iran to damage Israel," she said, stressing that BARTEC was active worldwide. Asked about Merkel's speech in the Knesset in March 2008 demanding that Iran be isolated, and one that summer urging German firms to demonstrate moral responsibility because of the Holocaust when dealing with the Islamic republic, Deubel said BARTEC was not involved with politics. When asked if BARTEC was contradicting Merkel's position by doing business with a regime that denied the Holocaust, Deubel said BARTEC was a global company and that "the regime does not have anything to do with us." Wolfram Trost, a spokesman for Siemens, Europe's largest engineering conglomerate, confirmed that the German giant was present at the Iranian trade show and displaying "compressors for the oil industry" and "gears" for the compressors. An employee from the GSR Innovative Valve Technology company told the Post that the head of the firm, Wolfgang Heil, was at the show promoting valve technology. Speaking from New York City, Joe Kildea of United Against Nuclear Iran told the Post, "These companies are undermining the sanctions and international efforts to stop Iran on its path toward nuclear weapons and support of terrorism. The energy industry gives Iran money it needs to destabilize the Middle East. At this time, Iran is economically in dire straits and looking for any source of income." Kildea urged companies to recognize their social responsibilities and not "trade short-term profits for security."