BP has opted out of the first wave of agreements to develop oil and gas reserves in Iran after the lifting of international sanctions — setting it apart from its two biggest European rivals Royal Dutch Shell and Total.

Iran has struck a series of deals with foreign energy groups in recent weeks, including Total and Shell, and plans to award more contracts early in 2017 as Tehran’s efforts to attract much-needed foreign investment gather pace.

However, BP, which has its corporate roots in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company responsible for the first Iranian oil discovery in 1908, is taking a more cautious approach ahead of a Donald Trump presidency which threatens renewed diplomatic tensions with Tehran.

Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief executive nominated by Mr Trump to become secretary of state, will have a big role in policymaking on Iran if his appointment is approved by the US Senate.

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