Bloomberg: Iran said Total SA, Europe’s third- largest oil company, has agreed to continue developing the South Pars natural-gas field.
By Tara Patel
March 16 (Bloomberg) — Iran said Total SA, Europe’s third- largest oil company, has agreed to continue developing the South Pars natural-gas field.
“We believe that Total has agreed to continue its role in developing South Pars,” Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said today in Geneva where he is attending an energy conference. “We believe we should develop our fields and give opportunities to some companies. It depends on them.”
Nozari’s comments contradict a report last week that Iran will seek another partner to develop the field. Total, “under direct U.S. pressure, has made no progress on the project to develop Phase 11 of South Pars,” National Iranian Oil Co. Managing Director Seifollah Jashnsaz said March 11, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
During talks with National Iranian Oil, the French company indicated it “cannot have an active presence in the project due to sanctions against Iran,” Jashnsaz was quoted as saying. “Iran will choose another partner to transfer this company’s shares to,” he added, without saying whether a new company had been selected.
Total postponed investment in South Pars last year, citing Iran’s strained relations with the West. The U.S. accuses the country of developing nuclear weapons. Iran, which has the world’s largest gas reserves outside Russia, disputes the claim.
Total owns a 30 percent stake in the so-called Pars LNG venture, which entails construction of a $2 billion gas- liquefaction plant. The operation would process gas from Phase 11 of South Pars, a field that extends from Qatar’s North Field, forming the largest known gas deposit in the world.
“Total continues to negotiate, this has not changed,” Total spokeswoman Phenelope Semavoine said by telephone from Paris today. “There is no decision for the moment.”
The Iranian Oil Ministry said last month that it expected to sign a delayed $5 billion deal for the development of South Pars by March 20. Days later, Total Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said it had no immediate plans to proceed with the contract.
Iran has slowed field development plans as United Nations economic sanctions hamper investment and the U.S. urges international companies to cut ties with the country.
“Iranian trade in oil and gas can play a key role in meeting global energy needs,” Nozari said earlier during a speech to the conference.