Energy Company May Withdraw from Iran South Pars Project
Energy Company May Withdraw from Iran South Pars Project
Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran
17 May, 2018, 05:55
Total has said it will quit a giant gas project in Iran after American sanctions were reapplied this month. Trump's May 8 announcement that he would snap back all sanctions on Iran that were in place before the nuclear deal means that those banks would no longer be accessible to Total, or to any other foreign companies, should they continue to engage in the Iranian marketplace.
The French oil major was among the first big western companies to return to Iran after the country emerged from years of isolation linked with its nuclear programme.
EU leaders at a summit in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia late on May 16 reaffirmed their commitment to trying to keep the landmark 2015 agreement alive and protecting European companies doing business in Iran.
Total said it could not afford to breach the looming United States sanctions against Iran due to its reliance on American banks and shareholders.
Total's $2 billion deal with Tehran was in partnership with Petrochina, a subsidiary of China's largest oil and gas company, CNPC.
"It would be suicide to do any new business or funding for Iran or Iran-related companies without explicit guarantees from the United States government".
As a outcome, "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 U.S. authorities with the support of the French and European authorities", the French company said in a statement.
Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said the French firm would not pay a penalty if it pulled out of the project. "It's a way to give businesses a chance to get out".
A gas flare on an Iranian oil production platform.
Another Danish oil tanker operator Torm has said it would stop taking new orders in Iran.
But their efforts are undermined by the global reach of the US financial system, the dominance of the USA dollar, and the value to most European companies of the vital markets they have cultivated in the United States.
Companies are starting to take matters into their own hands as European and some other governments struggle to save the Iran deal.
Total's move is likely to rattle European governments and the European Commission, which warned Trump against acting to punish their businesses operating in Iran under the legitimacy of the nuclear deal they helped broker.
But Mogherini said the European Union would make every effort to maintain business ties with Tehran and ensure that Tehran can continue to sell its oil around the world.
"The current situation will pass and Iran will emerge as a victor", the oil ministry's news agency SHANA quoted Zanganeh as saying.
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