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French ‘Warned’ As Total Eyes Iranian Oil Deals

French oil giant Total SA continues to prop up Iranian oil and gas prospects, promising that Tehran will unveil a new contracting regime that will be “more sexy than before,” Bloomberg reports, while French automotive and aviation companies are eyeing Iranian trade deals “within weeks.

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie claimed in a recent interview with Bloomberg that Iran is planning to offer foreign oil companies better terms to develop oil and natural gas fields once the trade embargo is lifted.

“They are definitely expecting the embargo to be lifted,” De Margerie told the news agency on the sidelines of the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, in late January.  

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Total is Europe’s third-largest oil company and was working in Iran’s giant South Pars gas field until US sanctions made that impossible in 2009. Further development of this field is one of Iran’s top priorities.

Under the November agreement with six major powers, Iranian authorities will see limited sanctions relief in exchange for steps to curb the country’s nuclear program.

The interim agreement gives Iran access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad if it carries out its part of the deal, while parties continue negotiations for a final agreement within a year. The next round of talks is set to begin on 18 February.

At the same time, other French sectors are reportedly eyeing re-entrance into the Iranian market. According to the Tehran Times, “French auto and aviation companies visiting Iran may start shipping parts there within weeks, as they explore deals potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” citing a former French ambassador to the country.

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“Initial agreements may be reached, if not in coming days then maybe within the next few weeks,” Francois Nicoullaud, France’s ambassador to Tehran from 2001 to 2005, said by phone from Paris. “Within weeks it will be possible to see the start of supplies.”

The visit of a 116-strong French business delegation to Iran has sparked a harsh response from Washington. US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed concern over the visit and has issued a warning to his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, to the effect that most US sanctions remain in place and will be enforced.  Kerry reportedly noted that the French delegation was “not helpful” and that “it is not business as usual” with Iran.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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