Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Total to quit Iran gas project without waiver from sanctions

Total seeks exemption from US sanctions for Iran gas project Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran
Preston Stone | 17 May, 2018, 22:17

French oil major Total warned on Wednesday it will abandon a major gas field project in Iran unless it is exempt from USA sanctions against Tehran. Zanganeh noted that the country will definitely overcome the difficulties that result from the United States withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Total's announcement comes after German insurer Allianz (ALVG.DE) and Danish oil product tanker operator Maersk Tankers said they were winding down their businesses in Iran.

South Pars phase 11 development is aimed initially at domestic gas demand.

The French company said it had so far spent less than 40 million euros ($47 million) on the South Pars project, and that pulling out of it would not impact the company's general production growth targets.

"The risks of being on the wrong side of the US government are not worth the benefits of trading with Iran once the sanctions are in place", said Jason Gammel, a London-based analyst at Jefferies LLC.

President Donald Trump's withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear accord and his order that sanctions be reimposed on Tehran have left European allies scrambling to keep the deal alive and protect their Iranian trade.

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As a outcome, "Complete is not going to be able to proceed the SP11 challenge and should unwind all related operations earlier than four November 2018 except Complete is granted a selected challenge waiver by the USA authorities with the assist of the French and European authorities", the French firm mentioned in a press release.

"In these circumstances, Total will not take any further commitment related to the SP11 project and, is engaging with the French and U.S. authorities to examine the possibility of a project waiver", the group said.

Germany, France and the United Kingdom have vowed to stick with the nuclear deal and they're talking to Iranian officials about how to protect the economic benefits it offered Tehran.

"The issue is that Iranian transactions can't be processed though any part of the banking system that needs access to the US dollar", Gammel said. "With that in mind it's a logical decision". "We have a situation where there is a will to impose sanctions on Europeans and a resentment towards European companies who are now being accused of supporting a terrorist state".

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser told CNN this week that Trump's decision meant his company could not do any new business in Iran.

Industry sources told Reuters this week that China's CNPC, which holds a 30 percent stake in the South Pars project, was ready to take over Total's majority stake in the project if it pulled out.

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