France’s Total Officially Withdraws from Iran’s South Pars Gas Project

Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh says French energy giant Total has officially left the country, ending speculations over whether it would stay to finish a gas project following the return of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Zanganeh was quoted by media as saying that Total had informed Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum “over two months ago” that it would leave Iran, adding that its contract to develop Phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars energy hub had been thus terminated.

He further emphasized that the proceedings to replace the French company in Phase 11 were underway.

In July 2017, the NIOC awarded the project to a consortium comprising Total (50.1 percent), China’s CNPC (30 percent) and Iran’s Petropars (19.9 percent) through a contract worth around $4 billion.

However, when the US announced that it would restore sanctions against Iran, the French major said it would withdraw from Phase 11 to avoid American punitive measures.

This triggered speculations that CNPC would assume Total’s share in the project to be the consortium leader with a total share of around 80 percent.

Total had signed up to develop the same project back in 2009 but was forced to abandon its projects in Iran in 2012 when France joined a US-led campaign to put sanctions, including an oil embargo, against the country.

The objective of the development of Phase 11 was to produce a daily of above 56 million cubic meters (around 2 billion cubic feet) of natural gas into Iran’s domestic grid from 2021.

In early August, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order which made the sanctions against Iran effective.

The sanctions would in the first wave prevent Iran’s access to the US dollar among other restrictions. The second wave that would hit in November would ban investments in Iran’s oil and gas projects.

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