China National Petroleum Corporation has replaced France's Total in the South Pars gas project, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said.
"Total has been replaced by CNPC in Phase 11 of South Pars but it has not started work yet. Negotiations are underway with CNPC to determine when it will start operations," Zanganeh told ICANA. He did not provide details.
CNPC has not officially commented on the issue.
The minister noted that Total's departure from the multi-billion energy project is linked to the new US sanctions. The Trump administration has said that all foreign firms wanting to work in and with Iran would face its wrath as the beleaguered US government seeks to pressure Tehran into a “new and comprehensive” agreement by reducing Iran’s “oil export to zero.”
CNPC had said earlier that it needed time to study the new conditions based on its technical capacity and inform Iran about its final decision whether or not it would take the project.
Total, which had a 50.1% stake in the project, had partnered with China's CNPC (30%) and Iran's Petropars (19.9%).
The three companies signed a $4.8-billion deal last July and Total became the first major western energy company to invest in Iran’s expanding oil sector after the sanctions over Iran’s nuclear energy program were eased in 2016.
Iran signed a landmark deal with the six world powers (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) a year earlier that led to sanctions relief and the curbing of its nuclear energy program.
CNPC has been active in Iran since 2004 offering oil, gas and oil-field services, most of which have not been successful.
Caption: Total had partnered with China's CNPC and Iran's Petropars to develop the $4.8-billion gas project.