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The Oil Major That Won’t Leave Iran

Total will seek a waiver if the United States goes through with President Trump’s threat to reimpose sanctions against Iran, CEO Patrick Pouyanne said.

“If the U.S. decides to put back the sanctions, we have to look at what the consequences are ... and then we will see, either Donald Trump decides to maintain the waivers and we will move on with the project. If the U.S. decides not to sign the waiver ... we will ask for a waiver from the U.S. authorities,” he said as quoted by The National.

Total became the first Western company to re-enter Iran’s oil and gas industry after sanctions were lifted in 2016, agreeing last year to invest US$1 billion in the development of the huge South Pars gas field. At the time, Washington had extended a sanction waiver for Iran.

Total took part in the initial development of South Pars back in the 1990s, but was forced out of the country when international sanctions were imposed on Tehran on suspicions it was developing nuclear weapons. Now the company is back for the Phase 11 of the field’s development, estimated to cost some US$5 billion. It has a 50.1-percent stake in the field, partnering with China’s CNPC with 30 percent, and Petropars, which holds the remainder.

Now, Pouyanne said, the development of South Pars should be allowed to continue because the contract for it was signed during a period when there was a sanction waiver in place. This would probably be the reasoning behind Total’s opposition to any new or renewed sanctions that could have an effect on its Iranian operations.

South Pars is a shared field between Iran and Qatar, with reserves estimated at 14 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 18 billion barrels of condensate. This amount represents 7.5 percent of global gas reserves and 50 percent of Iran’s reserves.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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