Press TV – Total’s work on the South Pars gas project is well on track despite US threats of new sanctions on Iran, the French oil and gas group’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne says.
Pouyanne told Le Monde newspaper on Tuesday that Total was consulting with French and European authorities over protecting its investments in Iran, in case there was a resumption of sanctions.
The company became the first major Western energy investor in Iran following the lifting of sanctions in January 2016. Total has a 50.1 percent stake in phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, in a project worth $5 billion.
The project will have a production capacity of 2 billion cubic feet per day, or 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day including condensate, starting in 2021.
Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has said Total would lose all of its investment if it pulled out of the deal without the enforcement of UN Security Council sanctions.
President Donald Trump gave the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated before he took office, a final reprieve last month but warned European allies and US Congress they had to work with him to fix “the disastrous flaws” in the pact or face a US exit.
Trump wants tighter restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, vowing to stop waiving US nuclear sanctions on Iran unless the Europeans agree to the changes he demands.
Despite those threats, Pouyanne said the South Pars project is “progressing well, without delay, and (Total) continues to work, even if the situation with the American Congress is rather vague”.
He said if the Americans “decide to exit the nuclear agreement and if secondary sanctions return in place,” it would pose a “real question” for the French energy giant.
Total, he said, has been in discussions with French and European authorities about “means to protect investments already made in Iran, even in the case of the return of sanctions”.
Pouyanne was among the select group of European CEOs invited to dine with Trump at a special dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Nine of the 15 companies represented at the dinner, including CEOs of Germany’s Siemens, Swedish-Swiss technology leader ABB and Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo, are currently active in Iran and a further five have had a historical presence in the market.
Europeans vs. Trump demands
Pouyanne said it was “up to European diplomats to consider these questions” about the possible sanctions in order to “clarify the horizon for European business working in Iran”.
Central to the future of the companies in Iran is how much latitude the Europeans give to Trump’s demands as regards the Islamic Republic.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Saturday that working groups from his country as well as France, Britain and Germany had already begun to meet on “what is the scope of what we attempt to address” and how much Iran needed to be engaged in it.
Iran dismissed the remarks as “dreams” in line with Washington’s “wrongful and age-old habit” but no European official has reacted to Tillerson’s comments yet.