Officials in Tehran announced on Friday that Shell would be allowed to build 100 petrol stations in Iran, reported The Guardian.

Nonetheless, a Shell spokesman in London said: “We have not sought, or been granted, any licences to operate retail sites in Iran. We remain in full compliance with all international sanctions.”

In the meantime BP confirmed that it had sent a team of managers to Iran, coinciding with the arrival of a 30-member delegation of UK businesses in the Iranian capital for a four-day visit to meet officials.

BP was more brazen than Shell, with a company spokesman saying: “BP has met with oil industry officials in Iran recently. The details of those discussions are confidential. We have said for some time that we would be interested in reviewing opportunities in Iran once sanctions permit it. We are fully in compliance with the current sanctions regimes in place.”

According to Mehr News Agency, the Head of Iranian Society of Gas Station Owners (ISOGSO) Bijan Haj Mohammadreza told reporters that legal permission for opening 200 gas stations by foreign entities had been issued recently.

100 stations will go to French Total and another 100 to Shell in Tehran and other cities.

The legal side of the decision concerned branding strategies in distribution of gas in Iran, the official added.

Traditionally the only brand name in Iran is the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPC).

This is the first time for foreign companies to enter the downstream sector in the country.