France-Iran oil trade tops $2 billion in 2017: Envoy

Press TV – Oil trade between Iran and France surpassed $2 billion in 2017, French Ambassador to Tehran Francois Senemaud said Tuesday, hoping bilateral business will continue as normal.

France’s Total was the first Western oil major to sign a post-sanction deal to develop and operate phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars, but the company has said its final investment decision on the $2 billion project hinges on the renewal of US sanctions waivers.

President Donald Trump waived the nuclear sanctions “for the last time” in January and gave US Congress and European allies 120 days to change a nuclear agreement with Iran or face US abandonment of the pact.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said he would visit Iran on March 5 for talks with Iranian officials, including Trump’s ultimatum to his country as well as Britain and France about the nuclear deal.

Tehran is aggrieved by recent remarks by French officials, including le Drian accusing Iran of “hegemonic temptations” in the region.

Paris, however, has vowed to defend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the nuclear accord is officially known.

French companies were among the first to resume trade with Iran after the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in early 2016.

“With the lifting of sanctions against Iran and the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran-France cooperation on oil and gas resumed so that the volume of oil trade between the two countries exceeded $2 billion in 2017,” Mehr news agency quoted Senemaud as saying.

He made the remarks in an address to the opening of a workshop on health, safety and environment (HSE) jointly held by Iran and France in Tehran.

French Ambassador to Tehran Francois Senemaud (L) and former Chancellor of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences Ali Asghar Payvandi attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Tehran.

The ambassador “expressed hope that the development of cooperation between Iranian and French companies in the oil and gas industry, which also includes HSE, will continue,” Mehr reported.

He said a French delegation had recently visited refining facilities at South Pars and been “impressed” by the dynamism which Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum has created in oil projects.

Several deals were announced during Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to Paris in January 2016, including a joint venture between carmakers PSA Peugeot Citroen and Iran Khodro as well as plans for Iran to buy Airbus aircraft. There were also deals in the oil, shipping, health, agriculture and water sectors.

State investment bank Bpifrance has said it will finance investment projects of French companies in Iran from 2018, granting up to 500 million euros ($598 million) in annual credits.

PSA and Renault turned the corner on losses after returning to Iran which has a pent-up demand for new cars in the country of more than 80 million.