France’s key energy company Total says it is moving ahead with a plan to develop a major gas project in Iran, but would nonetheless want to know sooner whether the US would re-impose sanctions on Iran or not.
Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné has been quoted by media as saying that his company would have to proceed within the framework of US laws over its Iran plans specifically now that it has higher stakes in the US.
“Either we can do the deal legally if there is a legal framework,” Pouyanné told the CNN. “We work in the US, we have assets in the US, we just acquired more assets in the US. If we cannot do that for legal reasons, because of [a] change of [the] regime of sanctions, then we have to revisit it.”
Last week, the company purchased a portfolio of liquefied natural gas assets from energy company Engie, including its stake in the Cameron LNG project in Louisiana.
That deal ups the stakes for the French firm, CNN reported.
“We are working on the project. We launched the tenders, we should award… contracts by January,” Pouyanné said. “I hope by that time, Congress will have an answer for the president and the president will have to renew, or not [renew], the certification.”
Total was the first Western energy firm to sign a major deal, worth $4.8 billion, with Iran after sanctions were lifted on the country in 2016 under a nuclear agreement.
The deal envisages the development of Phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars energy zone. The French major jointly work with Iran’s Petropars as well as China’s CNPC over the project.
US President Donald Trump’s refusal last month to endorse the nuclear agreement with Iran and his threat to levy new sanctions on the country has thrown the future of the deal into doubt.
For now, Total is awaiting a US Congress decision on whether the Iran nuclear agreement is in line with the American interests, Pouyanne said last month. Trump has threatened to terminate the pact and if Congress agrees, Iran could be placed under renewed sanctions.