EghtesadOnline: Pushing its multibillion-dollar Iran venture on several fronts, French energy firm Total will continue its presence in the Iranian market as long as Tehran's nuclear deal is in full force, according to the company's president for Middle East, Exploration and Production Division.
"JCPOA (the nuclear deal) is still in force and we will continue our activities in Iran," Stephane Michel also told reporters in Paris, the National Iranian Oil Company's news portal quoted him as saying.
This month, US President Donald Trump chose to decertify Iran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, which led to the easing of sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
Michel reiterated Total's interest in maintaining ties with Iran but echoed CEO Patrick Pouyanne's comments that the introduction of new restrictions by Washington can jeopardize Total's interests in Iran, Financial Tribune reported.
Pouyanne said last week that his company will try to push ahead with the South Pars project if the US decides to impose unilateral sanctions, adding that Total will comply with any law that obliges it to withdraw from Iran.
It is now up to the US Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran, a move that could thwart Iran's financial and political rapprochement since last year's lifting of sanctions.
"Total will abide by international laws. Everything is stipulated by the law and we will continue to work within the law," he added.
However, he signaled that the supermajor will not easily give up on its ambitions in a country with some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves.
"Since taking position in Total in 2014, I have traveled to Tehran about 30 times for finalizing the Phase 11 deal," Michel said, referring to Total's milestone deal with Tehran to develop Phase 11 of South Pars, a giant gas field in the Persian Gulf.
In the first major energy deal between Iran and a western company since last year’s lifting of nuclear sanctions, Total signed a $5-billion agreement in July to develop SP Phase 11 in collaboration with China’s CNPC and Iran’s Petropars.
--- Oil, Petrochem
Michel said that as one of the first European companies to resume oil trade with Iran, Total is now taking in 160,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude.
But the French company is also in a race to become an oil producer in a race for Azadegan, a large oil deposit straddling Iran's border with Iraq.
The official also pointed to negotiations on the construction of petrochemical plants in Iran.
Reportedly, Total has reached a preliminary agreement to build three petrochemical plants, with a total capacity of 2.2 million tons in a deal that, if finalized, could see the French oil major invest up to $2 billion in Iran.
"We are interested in Iran's petrochemical sector … Plans are in place to work on polyethylene and ethane-cracker projects," he said without elaboration.
Reportedly, Total has reached a preliminary agreement to build three petrochemical plants, with a total capacity of 2.2 million tons in a deal that, if finalized, could see the French oil major invest up to $2 billion in new Iranian petrochemical ventures.
Iran aims to raise petrochemical output capacity to more than 120 million tons annually in five years. It produced just over 50 million tons of petrochemicals and polymers in the fiscal 2016-17.