Total says it will exit Iran project unless given a US waiver

17 May 2018
The French oil major makes announcement on South Pars Phase 11 following US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

French oil major Total says it will exit the South Pars Phase 11 project unless it is given a waiver by the US authorities exempting it from sanctions.

The company says that it intends to unwind all related operations by 4 November 2018, the date when energy-focused sanctions are set to return, unless the waiver is granted.

In a statement the company says: “Total will not be in a position to continue the SP11 project and will have to unwind all related operations before 4 November 2018 unless Total is granted a specific project waiver by the US authorities with the support of the French and European authorities.

“This project waiver should include protection of the company from any secondary sanction as per US legislation.”

Secondary sanctions could include the loss of financing in dollars by US banks for Total's worldwide operations, the loss of its US shareholders, or the inability to continue its US operations.

In the statement Total says it is “engaging with the French and US authorities to examine the possibility of a project waiver”.

It also said that the company had spent less than €40m ($47m) on the South Pars Phase 11 project so far.

On 8 May, President Donald Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the 2015 accord to curb Iran’s nuclear programme and reinstate sanctions.

Since the announcement German insurance company Allianz and Denmark’s transport and logistics company Maersk Tankers have both said they are winding down their businesses in Iran.

Germany’s Siemens will also not do any new business with Tehran, according to statements by its CEO Joe Kaesar.

Total signed the $1bn deal to develop the South Pars gas field in July last year, the first major Western energy investment in the Islamic Republic since international sanctions, including most of those imposed by the US, were lifted as part of a landmark agreement in 2015 over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Under the terms of the deal Total had a 50.1 per cent stake in the project, CNPC had a 30 per cent stake, and Iran’s Petropars, a NIOC subsidiary, had a 19.9 per cent stake.

The engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contracts for the South Pars Phase 11 project were expected to be worth a total of $3.3bn.

Prior to Trump’s decision to reinstate US sanctions Total had said that the project would have a production capacity of 2 billion cubic feet a day, or 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, including condensate.

At current market prices, the whole reserves of the field, which Iran shares with Qatar, would be worth around $2.9 trillion.

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