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Iran: New partner to replace Total in South Pars

Iran: New partner to replace Total in South Pars

Iran on Wednesday said a new partner would take over work on the current phase of its massive South Pars gas fields, accusing French energy giant Total S.A. of bowing to U.S. pressure and "procrastinating" in a project key to the country's development plans.
Director of National Iranian Oil Company, Seifollah Jashnsaz, said Iran was not happy with Total, and that it was determined to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field with or without the French company's participation.
"This company (Total) has procrastinated in commissioning this national project," the official IRNA news agency quoted Jashnsaz as saying. "On the basis of coordination with Total officials, another partner will join Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field and Total's leadership share will be transferred (to the new partner)."
Last July, Total officials said political conditions were not right for investing in Iran, dealing a serious blow to Tehran's efforts to develop its natural gas reserves. The decision came after the French government urged Total and national gas giant Gaz de France to refrain from investing in Iran.
The project is Total's only significant development in Iran.
Total spokesman Paul Floren in Paris said that "discussions are ongoing" with Iran.
Total and other international oil majors have been under pressure from the U.S., which is seeking to marginalize Iran because of its nuclear program. The West argues the program is aimed at developing weapons, while Iran says it is peaceful.
Jashnsaz did not say which company would take over Total's role in the project.
"In talks with NIOC, Total has announced that it cannot participate in this project due to sanctions against Iran," IRNA quoted Jashnsaz as saying. "Despite Total's good performance in Phases 2 and 3 of the South Pars gas field ... they made no progress in Phase 11 under direct U.S. pressure."
Experts say Total's withdrawal may set back Iran's ambitions to develop its liquid natural gas industry by eight to 10 years. But Jashnsaz said Iran will move forward without Total.
"No matter (whether) Total wants it or not, the NIOC will implement the project," Jashnsaz said.
Iran needs Western technology to liquefy gas from the field so it can be shipped and sold abroad.
Russian and Chinese oil firms have been keen to expand their cooperation with Iran, but are unlikely to be able to replace Western oil majors as partners in LNG projects because they lack the necessary experience and advanced technology.
Iran's giant South Pars gas field project is expected to produce 751 million cubic meters of natural gas a day when completed by 2014.
Iran has the largest natural gas reserves in the world after Russia.


Updated : 2021-04-11 18:47 GMT+08:00