Iran gives France two months to get U.S. sanctions exemption

Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said French oil giant Total had two months to seek protections from US sanctions following Washington’s controversial withdrawal from the international nuclear pact, the state news agency SHANA reported.

Mr Zanganeh said that China’s state-run CNPC oil firm could take over Total’s majority stake in the South Pars gas project if it failed to secure an exemption, adding that CNPC would raise its own stake from 30 per cent to more than 80 per cent.

He said: “Total has 60 days to negotiate with the US government. The French government can also hold negotiations with the US government over the course of the next 60 days to make sure that Total stays in Iran.”

The United States said earlier this month it would impose fresh sanctions on oil and gas producer Iran after quitting the landmark 2015 deal that placed limits on Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

Total signed a contract in 2017 to develop phase 11 of Tehran’s South Pars field (SP11) with an initial investment of $1 billion (752 million pounds) – a contract which has repeatedly been hailed as a symbol of the accord’s success.

The French oil and gas giant said in a statement issued mid-May: “Total will not continue the SP11 project and will have to unwind all related operations before November 4, 2018, unless it is granted a specific project waiver by the US authorities with the support of the French and European authorities.”

Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne confirmed last week that the only way for the company to stay in Iran would be to have a special US waiver, but that the prospects of that happening appeared “quite unlikely”.

Mr Zanganeh, for his part, said that an agreement with Europe would inspire other potential buyers of Iranian oil.

“Europe is buying only one third of Iranian oil, but an agreement with Europe is important to guarantee our sales, and find insurance for the ships ferrying the crude. Other buyers would also be inspired by this,” he told state television.

The deal’s remaining signatories – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – still see the nuclear pact as the best way to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and have stepped up efforts to save the deal.

Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil said on Tuesday that it had decided not to go ahead with plans to develop projects in Iran because of the threat of US extraterritorial sanctions.

Source » express

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