Abbas Ghaffari (1924-2015) President Of The National Iranian Oil Company In America

It had been over 20 years since I had last visited New York, but I got the chance to walk the many places which I had yearned as a young man to see, when I always told myself I will, the day I come to America.  The reason for my trip was not auspicious, but the walk allowed me to put a closure to the memory I had of a man I called Uncle Abbas.  Amou, passed away last week at the age of 90, living a life full of dreams and events only a few of us could imagine. He came to America in 1945 like most young men from the developing world, to gain an education which would benefit his country.  He, alongside some of his other friends, enrolled at the University of Utah, one of the few universities which would accept foreign students.  The war was over, and the GI bill allowed many of the GIs returning from the European theatre to enroll in Universities, leaving few open spots for foreign students. Amou, along with Ardeshir Zahedi, and Dr. Ahamd Ahmadi, three lifelong friends were able to secure a spot.  They each would go on to leave a positive mark on the history of Iran’s 20th century economics and politics.

Upon finishing his degree, Abbas married an American and packed for the homeland. During the next few years, he worked for the Interpol, few American companies and finally returned to the US to pursue a career in the oil industry.  He landed a job in California, working for an oil company while living in Long Beach.  His Uncle, Abdullah Entezam, who was at the time the Chairman of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), invited Abbas to take an interest in working for an Iranian Oil company, expanding the Interests of NIOC in America.  Abbas, now a seasoned oil man, accepted the challenge and moved the family yet again, this time to New York. He opened up an office for NIOC and sat at the helm of America’s division as its president, until 1980.

His career spanned two decades during which NIOC America, became a power house among the 7 sisters.  Abbas would frequently meet with the leaders of all of the US oil companies by the request of Entezam and later Manouchehr Eqbal to solidify deals for the exploration, upgrading infrastructure and using the oil for petrochemical needs than just fossil fuel.  During those years NIOC grew to a powerhouse of a global company.  Had it been traded on NASDAQ or NYSE, it would probably be the richest in the world.  In 1976-77 the Guinness book of records, declared NIOC as the largest revenue producing company in the world, yet another milestone to which Iran has never been able to emulate since the disaster of 1979.

Abbas was frequently involved with all major Iranian deals and negotiations, from the fleet of supertankers, the creation of Petrochemical companies, investing in the US refinery infrastructure, negotiating to buy US oil companies and finally to bring the NIOC gas stations to the US, a place where British Petroleum (formerly Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) finally filled in the early 1990s.  Abbas, was also in charge of the Iranian students who had scholarships from NIOC studying in America.  His primary area of interest was to entice these students to return to Iran and further the development plans of the Shah in building the Nation into a powerhouse.  Many of the future leaders of Iran’s postmodern era (1979) were a product of these scholarships.   He was a frequent guest speaker at oil gatherings and received multiple honorary degrees and accolades from prestigious American universities for his service to Iran and the US universities.  The Shah of Iran bestowed him on Imperial orders for his service to the Nation.

Iran lost yet another worldly man who put Iran on the right track, among the Nations of the world.  Throughout his years of retirement, he would tirelessly fight the Islamic infestation that had gripped his country of birth, alas he did not live to see the fruits of his hard work come to fruition.

He would marry his second wife, Avideh Behrouz, his cousin, in 1975 and together they spend a blissful 30+ years of love and devotion.  He is survived by his sons, Kamran, John and Kevin.

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