Total to sign biggest Iran gas deal since sanctions lifting

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"We are proud and honored to be the first global company to sign an Iranian Petroleum Contract, which offers an attractive commercial framework, following the 2015 worldwide nuclear accord and to therefore contribute to the development of relations between Europe and Iran".

Over the 20-year life of the contract, phase 11 will produce 335 billion cubic meters of gas and 290 million barrels of gas condensate, Ali Kardor, deputy oil minister and managing director of NIOC, said at the ceremony. He also held out a hand to USA oil companies, saying his country needs US$200 billion of investment in its oil industry in the next five years to make up for time lost during sanctions. The produced gas will be fed into Iran's gas network.

India has reportedly already announced that a consortium of domestic businesses would offer up to $11 billion to develop another of Iran's natural gas fields, Farzad-B field, and create the infrastructure to export the fuel, according to Bloomberg.

Iran, which has the second-largest gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves in the world, has also signed preliminary deals with Shell and Russia΄s Gazprom to develop oil and gas projects.

Iran and Qatar share the South Pars field.

Total has a 50.1-percent share in the new Iran deal.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne has said that the first $1 billion pledged by Total on Monday was to be used in helping fund the first phase of the project. He said his country needs some $200 billion of investments in its oil industry in the next five years to make up for time lost during sanctions.

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Those companies do more business in the USA, where President Donald Trump has said he would re-examine the deal that lifted Western sanctions on Iran a year ago, said Homayoun Falakshahi, a research analyst at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. Its investment will eventually reach $5 billion.

European majors are warming to Iran in the post-sanctions environment.

The agreement is "a big deal" for Iran and "will open the door for more companies to sign contracts" with the country, said Robin Mills, the head of Dubai-based consultant Qamar Energy. But people who work with the company said it is concerned about its exposure to the USA and is more selective in the choice of its banks than Total.

With sanctions by the USA over weapons, human rights and terrorism still remaining, a number of banks refused to deal with the Tehran and the country's hardliners pushed back against the attempts made by the administration of President Hassan Rouhani to make the terms of for foreign oil companies better.

"As well as hard work, this achievement highlights the administration's pragmatic approach to negotiations, particularly within Iran", Wood Mackenzie's analyst added.

The Boeing sales represent the first major deals for an American company in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and US Embassy takeover.

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