Iran’s Oil Ministry has recently witnessed demonstrations criticizing the terms of the new Iranian Petroleum Contracts (IPCs) organized by student protesters, who are aligned with the Basij, a hard-line militia formed to uphold the principles of the Islamic Republic, Oil and Gas 360 reported. Critics of IPCs claim that the contracts are unconstitutional and damaging for the country.

Under the constitution, privatization of foreign ownership of the exploration nd production sections of the oil industry is prohibited and any international oil company (IOC) working in Iran must form a joint venture with an Iranian partner acting as the owner and supervisor. The IPCs were perceived as making Iran an attractive target for foreign investments following the end of sanctions, as old contracts were rendered obsolete for their inflexibility and short-term tenure. Tehran announced that it needed as much as $280b in investments to upgrade its ailing oil and gas industry, but some experts estimate that the industry would need instead some $150b, the Financial Review informed.

In January, Tehran postponed a conference organized by the Oil Ministry scheduled to present the IPCs. Officials with the Iranian National Oil Company said that the bidding would not begin before May 2016, Press TV wrote.

In a recent report published by Moody’s, the ratings agency stated that Iran, so far unrated, has significant economic growth potential, and structural reforms have helped strengthen its fiscal foundation, reported Iran Oil Gas. “Sanctions relief will grant Iran access to an estimated $150b in frozen foreign assets. We project the resulting implementation of investment plans, as well as a recovery in oil production, to contribute to higher GDP growth of 5% in 2016-17,” according to Moody’s statement.