Iran: Total has officially withdrawn from South Pars

Alicia Cross
August 22, 2018

On August 20 Iran's oil minister announces Total is quitting its multi-billion dollar gas project in the country.

Israel and the United States have been closely aligned on their approach to Iran since Trump took office.

In similar remarks, Iran's foreign minister praised the European signatories for their efforts to salvage the deal, especially for the EU's so-called blocking statute that aims to mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions for European businesses.

The oil minister also said that efforts are underway to replace the French company with Iranian ones.

Total, which signed the deal in 2017 with an initial investment of $1 billion, confirmed that it had notified the Iranian authorities of its withdrawal from the deal after it failed to obtain a waiver from US sanctions.

Iran told OPEC on Sunday that no member country should be allowed to take over another member's share of oil exports, expressing Tehran's concern about Saudi Arabia's offer to pump more oil amid U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

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China, which has cut imports of USA crude amid a trade war with Washington, has said it opposes unilateral sanctions and defended its commercial ties with Iran. CNPC, which already has a 30 percent stake in the deal, is an experienced onshore oil and gas producer, but is relatively new to offshore drilling.

"Once Total quits, that will trigger CNPC to take over automatically, according to the contract", a senior Chinese industry source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters.

The US reimposed sanctions on Iran after Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers. The US has earlier announced that if China does not cease importing oil from Iran then it will be liable to secondary US sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly called for safeguarding the Iranian nuclear deal and defended the interests of European Union companies in Iran. "We want the United States to implement that (2015) nuclear deal" Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN on Sunday. The second wave that would hit in November would ban investments in Iran's oil and gas projects.

They argue that the nuclear deal is working as intended in keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for now.

Tehran used a similar system between 2012 and 2016 to circumvent Western-led sanctions, which had curtailed exports by making it virtually impossible to obtain shipping insurance for business with Iran.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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