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Iran says Total cannot drop major gas deal under U.S. pressures

Staff Writer |
Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Saturday the French energy giant Total cannot leave a major gas deal with the Islamic republic under the pretext of the U.S. political pressures.

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Total can only drop the deal if the United Nations Security Council imposes international sanctions against Tehran, Zanganeh said on the sidelines of his meeting with visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Alisher Sultanov, Press TV reported.

Zanganeh said Iran has a valid legal contract with Total, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran's Petropars.

In July, Iran and a consortium of the Chinese and French energy giants signed a multi-billion-dollar deal to develop Iran's South Pars (SP11) gas field in the Persian Gulf.

According to Zanganeh, the contract for development of the gas field is worth 4.8 billion U.S. dollars. The contract will be carried out in two phases with a total period of 20 years.

At each stage, 2.4 billion dollars of foreign fund will be allocated, the minister said, adding that Total will operate the SP11 project with a 50.1-percent interest alongside CNPC with 30 percent and Petropars with 19.9 percent.

Iran expects to produce as much as 56 million cubic meters of natural gas per day from the field once it is in full swing, he said.

The Iranian minister's remarks came as the Total Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne recently said that U.S. President Donald Trump's new aggressive approach to Iran could kill the huge energy deal.

"Either we can do the deal legally if there is a legal framework," Pouyanne said, adding that "if we cannot do that for legal reasons, because of change of regime of sanctions, then we have to revisit it."

Last month, Trump unveiled a tough and comprehensive new policy towards Iran, accusing the latter of violating the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, and announced that he would no longer certify the accord.

The South Pars field is a natural gas condensate field located in the Persian Gulf. It is the world's largest gas field shared between Iran and Qatar.

According to the International Energy Agency, the field holds estimated 51 trillion cubic meters of in-situ natural gas and some 50 billion barrels of natural gas condensate.

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