Total eyes return to Iran’s LNG projects: MEES

TEHRAN, Nov. 9 (Shana) – Senior executives from French major Total have made repeated visits to Tehran in recent months, making no secret of their ultimate desire to return to the country’s upstream.

But, while repeating the “only when sanctions are lifted” mantra, the company’s CEO Patrick de la Chevardière for the first time linked the company to a specific project, according to the Middle East Oil & Gas News and Analysis weekly (MEES).
“Prior to the sanctions we had an LNG project in Iran,” de la Chevardière told the firm’s 29 October Q3 conference call. “We are s till ready to discuss this project, among others, with the Iranians.”  He was referring to the 10mn tons/year Pars LNG plans, as part of which Total had a 40% stake (partnering Malaysian state firm PETRONAS) in a consortium that was to have developed ‘Phase 11’ of South Pars, the world’s largest gas field (shared with Qatar where it is known as north dome), which was to have fueled the LNG plant, the publication reported in its 6 November 2015 issue.
“After Total’s 2008 pull out, Iranian state firm NIOC awarded Phase 11 to Chinese state firm CNPC. But CNPC carried out little work, while Iran decided to focus on pipeline exports (in theory) and the domestic market (in practice) at the expense of LNG. CNPC was finally booted off the project in 2012.

In May, a MEES report said the under completion South Pars Phase 11 is thought to be one of the 50-or-so projects up for grabs in the country’s imminent upstream opening. “Total has been top of the queue of European firms beating a path to Iran over the past two years in anticipation of sanctions being lifted. The firm’s Middle East boss Arnaud Breuillac visited Tehran as far back as October 2013.”
“Shell, which was involved in a second mothballed LNG project, the 16mn t/y ‘Persian LNG’ where it was to have partnered Spain’s Repsol, has also been quick to beat a path to Tehran. The two firms were among the last large western oil firms to quit the country, in 2008, citing not only sanctions pressure – the US threatened to block such firms from doing business in the US – but also tough contractual  terms under the country’s much-maligned and now scrapped ‘buyback’ model,” the new MEES report said.

The new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) is to be unveiled at a conference in Tehran on 28-29 November, before being presented to an international audience in London in February.