Total signs Iran's 1st global energy deal since sanctions eased

Jul 04, 2017, 00:44
Total signs Iran's 1st global energy deal since sanctions eased

Global oil firms have not re-entered the Islamic Republic quickly following the deal made by Iran and world powers two years ago that lifted most of the sanctions place by the West on Tehran.

Officials met in Tehran and signed the agreement, which will see the firms develop a portion of the massive South Pars offshore field that Iran shares with Qatar.

The French company will serve as the operator of South Pars Phase 11 with its 50.1 percent stake in the project.

Zanganeh also held out a hand to USA oil companies, saying his country needs some $200 billion of investments in its oil industry in the next five years to make up for time lost during sanctions. That led to the European Union terminating many economic sanctions including the embargo on purchasing crude oil and gas.

He called for bolstering cooperation between Iranian and European companies in various sectors, saying that Total had made a decision to boost long-term cooperation with Iran in the fields of gas, oil and petrochemicals. Tehran calls the giant field South Pars while Doha calls it the North Field.

Saeed Laylaz, a reform-minded Iranian analyst, told the Financial Times on July 3 that the Total contract showed "that the US's new [Iran sanctions] policies are either rhetoric or have failed". Total is expected to complete the Phase 11 project in three years and extract natural gas from the field for 20 years.

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As Total wrote on its website, the project will have a production capacity of 2 billion cubic feet (about 56 million cubic meters) per day of gas or 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day including condensate.

The South Pars field is a natural gas condensate field located in the Persian Gulf.

Trump's administration has taken a tough line on Iran and imposed new USA sanctions related to its ballistic-missile program and military actions in the region.

When the initial deal was signed in November, Pouyanne, Total's CEO, said: "We're the first Western major to return to Iran". The company has identified small European banks that will furnish its local financing needs, but other companies say that financing large deals remains hard because most lenders avoid Iran, for fear of running afoul of the United States.

Current US President Donald Trump is still reviewing the sanctions against Iran, as his administration has maintained that Tehran is linking nuclear enrichment to its ballistic missiles.

"IPC offers more attractive terms and conditions, including higher rewards for risky projects as well as 20-year terms of cooperation that can be extended", Qarekhani said, adding that the new contracts include extended contract duration of 20-25 years, allowing for much longer cost recovery after first production. And some Western companies have been reluctant to jump in since Iran still faces sanctions that prevent firms from transacting with Iran in US dollars.

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