Saturday, 17 November, 2018

China's CNPC to replace Total in South Pars if French firm withdraws

French President Emmanuel Macron with British PM Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia on Thursday Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran
Orlando Vargas | 17 May, 2018, 14:39

However earlier this month, President Donald Trump introduced his withdrawal from the deal, and warned firms that they face sanctions in the event that they do enterprise with Iran.

The waiver that Total seeks would include protection from any secondary sanction per U.S. legislation, which would be crucial given the fact that Total relies on USA banks for almost 90% of its financing operations, and 30% of its shareholders are United States shareholders.

Washington is re-imposing strict sanctions on Iran, which were lifted under the 2015 deal to curb the country's nuclear ambitions.

Zanganeh's statement came after the French energy giant said that is preparing to pull out of the gas project in the face of renewed U.S. sanctions.

When the Iran agreement was signed and sanctions were ended, Total was among the first corporations to sign business agreements with the Iranian government.

According to the agreement, CNPC could take over Total's 50.1 percent stake and become operator of the project if Total withdraws from Iran.

Late last week, US National Security Advisor John Bolton made it clear that Washington may slap sanctions on European Union companies cooperating with Tehran after the US administration's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Joe Kaeser, the CEO of Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE), told CNN his company would not be able to do any new business with Tehran. France, Germany and Britain are leading a European effort to safeguard Europe's economic interests in Iran.

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"Total, together with the other partner Petrochina, executed the contract related to the South Pars 11 (SP11) project, in full compliance with United Nations resolutions and US, EU and French legislation applicable at the time", the statement said.

In March, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the company would seek a waiver to continue the development of the gas field if the United States made a decision to reimpose sanctions.

"The fines are in the multibillions these days so it's just not worth the risk for a small piece of business and maybe pleasing a (European) government".

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker was due to present options to protect European investment, which could include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran, and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments. "With that in mind it's a logical decision".

Italy's Eni (ENI.MI), which last June signed a provisional agreement with Tehran to conduct oil and gas feasibility studies, said after Washington's decision to quit the nuclear deal last week that it had no plans for new projects in Iran.

The total project, which also involves China 's CNPC and Iranian company Petropars, is estimated to be around $2 billion for the first phase.

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