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Simon Watkins

Simon Watkins

Simon Watkins is a former senior FX trader and salesman, financial journalist, and best-selling author. He was Head of Forex Institutional Sales and Trading for…

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Trade War Is Unexpected Boon For Iranian Gas

Facing an unexpectedly rigorous enforcement by the U.S. of its re-imposed sanctions on oil and the recent addition of partial sanctions on its petrochemicals sector, Iran is pushing for output increases from its massive South Pars non-associated natural gas field. The field – a 3,700-square km sector of the 9,700-square km basin shared with Qatar (in the form of the 6,000-square km North Field) – already accounts for around 40% of Iran’s estimated 33.8 trillion cubic metres (tcm) of natural gas reserves and around 60% of its gas production. It is also critical in Iran’s overall strategy to increase its natural gas production up to 1 billion cubic metres (bcm) per day by the end of this Iranian calendar year (ending on 19 March 2020).

A cornerstone of this output expansion strategy remains Phase 11 of the South Pars (SP11) site that has particular symbolic and logistical importance for Iran. Before the U.S. pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal between the P5+1 group of nations (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China plus Germany) and Iran, French supermajor, Total, had signed a multi-billion dollar deal to develop SP11. This marked the first major upstream hydrocarbons deal done between Iran and a Western firm since the JCPOA was agreed in 2015. That deal evaporated when the U.S. signalled that it would withdraw from the JCPOA, leaving Iran to scramble around trying to persuade any major Russian firm to take up the slack…


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