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Total Plows Into Iran, Leaving Shell, BP on Sidelines

Total Plows Into Iran, Leaving Shell, BP on Sidelines

It is the first major Western energy investment since sanctions against Tehran were lifted.

The agreement, signed in Tehran on Monday, will see the firms develop a portion of the massive South Pars offshore field, which Iran shares with Qatar. Total signed a preliminary deal with Iran in November as the lead partner alongside China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran's Petropars.

Iran hopes to produce six million barrels of crude oil and condensates a day in five years, he said, up from some 3.6 million today.

The offshore field - the largest natural gas field in the world - was first developed in the 1990s, when Total was one of the largest investors in Iran. The field contains 40 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers (3,745 square miles).

The French energy giant had to abandon the original deal for phase 11 in 2012 when France and other European Union states imposed additional sanctions, including an oil embargo on Iran.

Total's Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne, left, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in January 2016. Total is expected to complete the Phase 11 project in three years and extract natural gas from the field for 20 years. At a later stage, once required by reservoir conditions, a second phase will be launched involving the construction of offshore compression facilities, a first on the South Pars field.

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Negotiations between Tehran and oil companies have been further complicated by the election of President Donald Trump in the USA who has been very critical of the agreement reached with Iran over its nuclear program in 2015.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost $2bn and recently Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said that the company plans to invest $1bn despite possible USA sanctions risks.

The oil ministry in Iran said on Monday that the contract would be signed in the afternoon. We are proud and honored to be the first worldwide company to sign an IPC, which offers an attractive commercial framework, following the 2015 global nuclear accord (JCPOA) and to therefore contribute to the development of relations between Europe and Iran.

"The main obstacle is being created by the USA government".

A diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf is adding another level of uncertainty for big oil companies looking to invest in Iran.

The investment will be the first deal conducted under Iran's new Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC).

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