France's Total to sign Iran gas deal delayed by sanctions

Monday, July 3rd, 2017
Last Update: 14:57

Iran is to sign a contract with French energy giant Total on Monday to develop its giant South Pars gas field. The 20-year deal is the largest since sanctions were lifted against Tehran last year.

Iran΄s oil ministry confirmed at the weekend the signing of a multi-billion-dollar agreement with French energy giant Total and Chinese company CNPC after a multi-year delay.

"The international contract for development of Phase 11 of South Pars in the framework of IPC (Iranian Petroleum Contract) will be signed on Monday ... at a ceremony in Tehran," a ministry official said.

Total will put in an initial $1 billion (876 million euros) for the first stage of the 20-year project and take a 50.1 percent interest. Its investment will eventually reach $5 billion.

The state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation will own 30 percent and Iran΄s Petropars 19.9 percent.

Gas for Iranian market

Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field will produce gas for the Iranian market from 2021. The site will eventually pump 50.9 million cubic meters (1.8 billion cubic feet) of gas per day into Iran΄s national grid.

The offshore field was first developed in the 1990s and Total was one of the biggest investors in Iran until international sanctions were imposed in 2006 over suspicions that Tehran was trying to develop nuclear arms.

The French energy giant had to abandon the original deal for phase 11 in 2012 when France and other European Union states imposed additional sanctions, including an oil embargo on Iran.

Waiting to return

Total has been keen to reenter the Iranian market since a 2015 landmark accord between Iran and six world powers, which eased sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Although the deal was finalized late last year, the phase 11 announcement was delayed for several months after US President Donald Trump threatened during his election campaign to tear up the nuclear agreement.

But although Trump has imposed fresh restrictions concerning Iran΄s ballistic missile program and military activities in the region, he is yet to follow through with his original plan.

Iran, which has the second-largest gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves in the world, has also signed preliminary deals with Shell and Russia΄s Gazprom to develop oil and gas projects.

mm/rd (AFP, Reuters)

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