FRANCE’S TOTAL INKS BIG DEAL WITH IRAN ON GAS FIELDS
France wasted no time in rebuilding its economic ties with Iran since international sanctions were lifted as part of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
In early 2016 — just after the sanctions began to roll back — France made deals with Iran to sell Airbus commercial jets, return carmaker Peugeot and have energy giant Total buy Iranian crude oil.
Another big bet by France was made Monday as Total signed a multibillion-dollar deal to help develop part of the massive South Pars gas field, one of the world’s most extensive energy reserves. The pact with the National Iranian Oil Co. marks the first major Western investment in Iran since the nuclear deal was reached in 2015.
An even bigger message sent by the deal is that France and the United States are blazing different paths when it comes to Iran’s vast oil and gas fields.
French leaders and business envoys spent months hammering out the Total deal. In Washington, President Donald Trump has not missed any opportunity to criticize the nuclear deal as part of his attacks on all things Obama.
It has left U.S. oil companies waiting on the sidelines for clues on whether they could one day get official clearance to make a foray into the Iranian market. A push in Congress for new sanctions on Iran — in response to Tehran’s ballistic missile tests — suggests that it could be a long time before U.S. oil companies can look in Iran’s direction.
“This is a major agreement for Total, which officially marks our return to Iran to open a new page in the history of our partnership with the country,” the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, Patrick Pouyanné, said in a statement.
Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said the deal will bring “more than $5 billion in foreign investments.”