LONDON (Dow Jones), Oct. 12, 2009
Total has resumed contacts to enter the Pars liquefied-natural-gas export scheme in Iran, a state company said, despite rising tensions between the West and the Islamic Republic.
Total met last week with the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Exporting Co., Reza Kasaeizadeh, NIGEC said in a statement posted on its Website. "The French company expressed...interest to continue its activities in Pars LNG project," it said.
It is unclear when the statement was posted. Total declined to comment.
The meeting with Total came after the recent signature of a contract to develop South Pars phase 11 between China's China National Petroleum Corp. and the National Iranian Oil Co., or NIOC.
The cost of Phase 11 -- tapping into Pars, the world's largest non-associated gas field which Iran shares with Qatar -- is estimated at $4.7 billion.
The project will produce natural gas for the Pars LNG project, which is expected to export 10 million metric tons per year mainly to Europe and East Asia.
The official ISNA agency quoted Kasaeizadeh as saying Total will soon meet with NIOC and CNPC to discuss Phase 11 and Pars LNG and they may work on the two projects together.
It is unclear, however, if Total is just keeping its options open or if the talks are gaining a new momentum.
Years of discussions between Total and Iran over the LNG scheme have failed to lead to an agreement due to the French company's concerns over a U.S. ban on large investments in the Iranian oil and gas sector.
Due to the sanctions, Iran has been unable to grow into global gas power, despite holding the world's second-largest reserves of the hydrocarbon.
The problem is unlikely to improve after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran Sunday that world powers were running out of patience over Iran's nuclear program. The West suspects it is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge strongly denied by Iran.
The tensions have already led to renewed pressure in the West against dealing with Iranian companies.
The U.K. government Monday ordered U.K. financial companies to stop trading with two Iranian firms, Bank Mellat and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Some European companies have quietly dropped their gasoline sales to Iran -- on which Iran depends for 30% of its needs -- after U.S. lawmakers proposed sanctions against Iranian oil products imports.
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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