Iran: China’s state-owned energy CNPC takes over French Total

Australian liquefied natural gas tanker 'Southern Cross' sits docked at the LNG terminal of Yangkou port

Iran's official IRNA news agency is reporting that China's state-owned petroleum corporation has taken a majority share of the country's South Pars gas project after French oil and gas company Total announced it would pull out because renewed US economic sanctions against Iran.

The logo of CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation) is pictured at the 26th World Gas Conference in Paris, France, June 2, 2015.

Mohammad Mostafavi, head of investment and business affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), was quoted by media as saying that the terms of the contract with Total, China's CNPC and Iran's Petropars over the development of Phase 11 of South Pars had no changed yet.

In July 2017, the NIOC awarded the project to the trio through a contract worth around $4 billion. There was no explanation for the apparent discrepancy.

Total, which finalized its agreement with Iran in July 2017, had already spent some 40 million euros ($45.7 million) on the project when Trump announced in May that the US would exit the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimpose sanctions on Tehran lifted after the accord was signed. South Pars has the world's biggest natural gas reserves ever found in one place.

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But the French company had said it would pull out unless it secured a USA sanctions waiver, and Gholamreza Manouchehri, deputy head of NIOC, said in June that if Total were to walk away, then CNPC would take over.

A spokeswoman for Total declined to comment.

The first round of US sanctions was put back into place this week, with more to come in November, greatly complicating efforts by companies that rushed into Iran after the 2015 nuclear accord was signed by Iran, the USA and five other countries plus the European Union. Washington is planning to impose heavier sanctions in November aimed at Iran's oil sector.

Total - with a leading share of 50.1 percent in the development of Phase 11 - had earlier announced it would withdraw from the project once the United States restores the sanctions against Iran.

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