June 19, 2018
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


1319 18th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

After the announcement by President Donald Trump that the United States will pull out of the JCPOA and reinstate sanctions on Iran, various questions surround Iran’s future, and in particular the future of its energy sector. Many countries including the EU, China, and Russia, have competing interests in the future of Iran’s oil industry. While many Europeans companies are likely to abandon Iran in fear of US sanctions, China is among possible investors in the Islamic Republic’s energy sector. Saudi Arabia has doubled down in its energy diplomacy to maintain its competitive edge as the region’s top oil exporter.


How will the resumed sanctions impact Iran’s ability to produce and export oil and gas? What strategies might the Iranian government use to respond to these new challenges? How will the changes to Iran’s energy capacities affect regional and global energy markets?  


The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a panel to examine how resumed sanctions on Iran will impact its energy sector. MEI senior fellow Alex Vatanka, and scholars Rauf Mammadov and Jean-François Seznac will be joined by Sara Vakhshouri (SVB Energy International). Steven Mufson (The Washington Post) will moderate the discussion.


Speaker Biographies:


Rauf Mammadov

Resident scholar, MEI

Rauf Mammadov is resident scholar on energy policy at MEI. He focuses on issues of energy security, global energy industry trends, as well as energy relations between the Middle East, Central Asia and South Caucasus.  He has a particular emphasis on the post-Soviet countries of Eurasia. Prior to joining MEI, Mammadov held top administrative positions for the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) from 2006 and 2016.  In 2012, he founded and managed the United States Representative Office of SOCAR in Washington D.C.


Jean-François Seznec 

Nonresident scholar, MEI; Adjunct professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Jean-François Seznec’s focus is on the growth of the energy-based industries, such as petrochemicals, aluminum, or steel, in the Gulf. He is an adjunct professor at the McDonough Schoool of Business at Georgetown, as well as at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He has 25 years of experience in international banking and finance, ten of which were spent in the Middle East.


Sara Vakhshouri

President, SVB Energy International

Sara Vakhshouri is the Founder and President of SVB Energy International, a strategic energy consulting firm based in Washington, DC. She is an internationally recognized expert and has extensive experience in global energy market studies, energy security, and geopolitical risk with a special focus on the Middle East, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Vakhshouri has experience working in both the public and private sectors of the Iranian energy industry, including the National Iranian Oil Company, where she worked from 2000 to 2008. Vakhshouri has been based in Washington, DC since 2009, where she has advised numerous energy and policy leaders, international corporations, think tanks, investment banks, and law firms on the global energy market, the geopolitics of energy, and investment patterns.


Alex Vatanka

Senior fellow, MEI

Alex Vatanka specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. From 2006 to 2010, he was the managing editor of Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst. From 2001 to 2006, he was a senior political analyst at Jane’s in London (UK) where he mainly covered the Middle East. Alex is also a senior fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an adjunct professor at DISAM at Wright-Patterson AFB. He has lectured widely for both governmental and commercial audiences, including the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, U.S. intelligence agencies, U.S. Congressional staff, and Middle Eastern energy firms.


Steven Mufson, moderator

Reporter, The Washington Post 

Steven Mufson covers energy and other financial matters. Since joining The Washington Post, he has covered the White House, China, economic policy and diplomacy. He has worked at The post sice 1989 and has been its chief economic policy writer, Beijing correspondent, diplomatic correspondent and deputy editor of the weekly Outlook section. Earlier, he spent six years working for the Wall Street Journal in New York, London and Johannesburg, and wrote a book about the 1980s uprisings in South Africa's black townships.