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France’s Total has 60 days to secure a waiver from the returning U.S. sanctions on Iran in order to stay in the multi-billion-dollar South Pars gas development project, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said on Wednesday.
“Total has 60 days to negotiate with the US government. In the course of these 60 days, the French government may also initiate talks with the US government aimed at ensuring Total’s stay in Iran,” the Iranian oil ministry’s news service Shana quoted the minister as saying.
After the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and announced sanctions are returning, Total, like many other companies doing business in or with Iran, is concerned about being exposed to secondary U.S. sanctions if they continue operations in Iran.
After the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal, Total—the first supermajor to have returned to Iran after the previous sanctions were lifted—said that would not be in a position to continue the South Pars 11 gas project and would have to unwind all related operations before November 4, 2018 “unless Total is granted a specific project waiver by the US authorities with the support of the French and European authorities. This project waiver should include protection of the Company from any secondary sanction as per US legislation.”
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“Total has always been clear that it cannot afford to be exposed to any secondary sanction, which might include the loss of financing in dollars by US banks for its worldwide operations,” the French company said a week after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal.
While Total is examining how to proceed with applying for a waiver, China’s state-owned energy group CNPC is said to be ready to take over Total’s share in the South Pars development.
Iran’s Zangeneh said today that if Total abandons the South Pars 11 development project, it would be replaced by China’s CNPC.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.