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04 July 2017, 12:47 | Katrina Lee
Iran signs multi-billion-dollar gas deal with French energy giant Total
The contract will be valid for a 20-year period during which 335 billion cubic meters of rich gas will be harvested from Phase 11 of South Pars Gas Field.
The state-owned China National Petroleum has a 30% stake, while Iran's Petropars has 19.9%. The 20-year project that defies the U.S. pressure will eventually see the firms inject $4.9 billion.
Iran, long on oil and gas, but short on capital and technology, could be the next great energy frontier if global and domestic politics permit.
The vast offshore gas field is shared between Iran and Qatar, where Total is also a major player in gas production as well as in oil and refining.
At Monday's signing ceremony, Iran's Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Total's CEO Patrick Pouyanne and Lv Gongxun, representatives of the CNPC were present.
Since signing the heads of agreement last November, Total has been conducting engineering studies on behalf of the consortium and initiated calls for tender in order to award the contracts required to develop the project by the end of the year. The French firm was initially due to sign the contract in early 2017, but CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in February that it would wait to see whether the USA adminstration of President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Chicago-based Boeing also signed a $3 billion deal in April to sell 30 737 MAX aircraft to Iran's Aseman Airlines, a firm owned by Iran's civil service pension foundation.
The contract has a 20-year duration, extendable by another five years.
The first phase of the project is expected to cost $2bn and recently Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said that the company plans to invest $1bn despite possible U.S. sanctions risks. And some Western companies have been reluctant to jump in since Iran still faces sanctions that prevent firms from transacting with Iran in USA dollars. Some oil executives said that when traveling to Iran to meet with officials there, for instance, they take only laptops stripped of sophisticated software like encryption programs, and older models of mobile phones, to avoid accidentally violating export controls. "The main obstacle is being created by the US government".
Pouyanne, for his part, stressed the importance of making efforts to implement the deal and expressed hope that it would prepare the ground for further cooperation among Iran and other European companies.
"We're the first Western major to return to Iran".
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