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EghtesadOnline: Iran will sign a $4 billion deal with France’s Total to develop phase 11 of the giant South Pars gas field before summer, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says.

Zangeneh and Total Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne met in Vienna on the sidelines of the OPEC meeting on Friday night and discussed the deal, Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

“The signing of the contract with Total is very close and will be done in less than a month,” Zangeneh told reporters.   

According to PressTV, Total signed a heads of agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in November 2016 but said earlier in February that a final decision on the deal hinged on the new US administration renewing sanctions waivers on Iran.

Pouyanne told journalists on the sidelines of the Vienna meeting that the signing of the waivers had cleared the path for the deal to be concluded.

Zangeneh said a major European bank will provide guarantees, but did not disclose its name. He also said foreign countries have reached a consensus on Iran’s new oil contract called IPC.

Other Iranian officials have already said that they expected the first contract under the new formula to be signed soon, marking a turning point in months of anticipation as the country reopens its oil and gas sector to business.

Zangeneh said some companies had worries about the new contract but those concerns have been removed now.  

Iran has named 29 international firms as being eligible to bid for oil and gas projects but they have been waiting for the country to finalize the new model, known as the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC).

The new model has been the subject to repeated reviews amid fears that it might compromise Iran’s national interests at the expense of making business with the country more flexible.

Total became the first Western oil major to sign an energy agreement after the European Union and the United States eased sanctions as part of a nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic.  

The South Pars 11 project will have a production capacity of 1.8 billion cubic feet per day, or 370 000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The produced gas will be fed into Iran's gas network.

Total will operate the project with a 50.1% interest alongside Petropars at 19.9% and the Chinese state-owned oil and gas company CNPC at 30%.

The French oil major also plans to invest in the South Azadegan oil field. Zangeneh said the tender for development of Azadegan oil field will be implemented soon, for both the southern and northern sections.

The oil minister further reiterated that Iran has no problems for the participation of American companies in its oil and gas projects. 

“We have no problem for the presence of US companies in oil and gas projects in Iran. They are limited by their own government,” he said, adding Iran’s preference is to sign deals with noted international companies. 

Bijan Zangeneh South Pars Total Iran gas Iran-Total