EghtesadOnline: French energy giant Total says it is trying to develop its own mechanism to carry out Iran-related banking transactions without falling afoul of US primary sanctions that still restrict doing financial activities with the Islamic Republic.
Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné told The New York Times that his company was trying to find European lenders willing to be a day-to-day banker in Iran – in a sign that shows the company’s determination to press ahead with its investment plans in Iran.
Pouyanné added that his company had been sending small amounts of euros from banks in Europe to Tehran to learn how difficult it was to make transactions in Iran, according to PressTV.
Wary of running into trouble with the American authorities, larger banks are for now staying away, wrote The New York Times.
“We have identified some, I would say, medium-sized banks who are ready to work with Iran,” Pouyanné said.
He added that Total had put several token transactions through the banking system as test, hoping to identify difficulties in getting money into and out of Iran.
“There are some constraints, but we can do it,” he told The New York Times in an interview.
Total signed a preliminary agreement with Iran last year to develop Phase 11 of the country’s giant South Pars gas field. The French major would lead a consortium that comprises China’s CNPC and Iran’s Petropars over the project. Nevertheless, it would still need Washington’s green-light before sealing a final deal with Tehran over the project.
Pouyanné told reporters in February that his company’s final investment decision on Phase 11 would depend on whether US President Donald Trump waives executive orders against investments in the Iranian energy sector.
Nonetheless, Total chief indicated in his interview with The New York Times that his company was eager to venture into the Iranian market even though other global energy giants had hung back over fears of punitive measures by the US.
“We are a little bolder than others,” Pouyanné said. “It is part of our strength.”