Iran says it understands why Total had to delay a decision to go ahead with the development of a key gas project in the country until the position of the new US administration toward foreign investments in the Islamic Republic is known.
“This company has announced that it is waiting for US’ final decision and we understand it,” Amir-Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy petroleum minister for international affairs and trading, told a conference in Tehran.
“Total plans to invest about $5 billion in Iran. It has already spent some $20 million in Iran over preparations for its projects,” he was quoted as saying by the Persian-language newspaper Jomhouri-ye Eslami.
The project which the French company plans to develop is Phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars gas field. It signed a basic agreement with the country last November to invest $4.8 billion in the project – what was seen at the time as the biggest contract that the Islamic Republic had awarded for an industrial project after the lifting of the sanctions in early 2016.
The agreement envisages a tripartite partnership which also involves Iran’s Petropars and China’s CNPC.
Later in February, Total’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said his company would make a final decision over investment in Phase 11 by summer provided that nothing would change with regards to US sanctions against investing in Iran's oil sector projects.
"There are two executive orders that are supposed to be renewed before summer," Pouyanne said, suggesting that his company would have to wait to see if US President Donald Trump would issue waivers for those executive orders as did his predecessor Barack Obama.
"These are supposed to last about 18 months. So President Trump will have to, or not, renew these sanction waivers," he told journalists in Paris, as reported by Reuters.