Iran's new oil minister, Ali Akhbar Moinfar, said today that he intends to purge the oil industry at all levels, a move that complies with the aims of the ruling clergy but threatens to hamper Iran's oil exports.
Moinfar, who formally took up his new post today, told oil workers at National Iranian Oil Co. headquarters in Tehran that the previous directors had been reinstated and that the government intended to maintain exports at the present level of 3.3 million barrels a day.
In an interview published today, however, Moinfar said the industry gradually would be purged.
Failure to purge the industry of all staff associated with the government of the deposed shah was one of the principal charges leveled at the former oil company boss, Hassan Nazih, who apparently was ousted last week after sharp criticism from the Moslem clergy.
Supported by his directors, Nazih had challenged such demands on the ground that it would drain off skilled and experienced staff, vitally needed to maintain oil operations after about 600 foreign management personnel and engineers left the oil fields during the revolution.
The national oil company had continued to maintain a great deal of autonomy from the government, in many respects operating as a state within a state.
The upheavals over the last week have not disturbed oil field operations, according to company figures that show total oil production as holding close to the average 4 million barrels a day fixed by the government.
But the oil company's special adviser, Kazem Hassibi, was quoted today as complaining that the handling of the Nazih affair had disturbed the company and caused a postponement of negotiations due to have started Tuesday with the Western oil consortium that marketed most of Iran's oil before the Islamic revolution.
"The treatment of Mr. Nazih has had a very adverse effect on the whole of" the oil company, Hassibi said. "So much so that the consortium representatives who were due to visit here have put off coming to Tehran and have sent word that we should go to them."
The talks were expected to concentrate on the complex issue of settling up the accounts of the Oil Service Co. of Iran, the consortium subsidiary that operated the oil fields before the revolution.
Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, who presented Moinfar to the oil company's Tehran staff, helped to keep the Nazih issue alive by saying that Nazih had not been dismissed.
In a lengthy address to the staff in which he is said to have referred to Nazih as "his excellency," the prime minister said that he merely had been suspended until there was an investigation of charges raised against him by members of the clergy last week.
There is, however, no sign of Nazih's whereabouts. Nazih went into hiding last Friday after publication of a summons by the revolutionary prosecutor general for him to appear at his office within 24 hours.
Despite his absence, the prosecutor general's office said today that no warrant had been issued yet for Nazih's arrest.
Meanwhile, saboteurs struck again in the main oil-producing province of Khuzestan yesterday, causing two explosions at the university in Ahwaz, located near the center of Iran's biggest oil fields.
Two bombs went off within half an hour of each other, causing extensive damage to buildings but no injuries, according to local reports.
It was the second act of sabotage in the area within 24 hours following an explosion Saturday night that destroyed the communications mast of a microwave station located between Ahwaz and the port town of Khorramshahr, severing outside communications with both Khorramshahr and the oil industry center of Abadan.