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Chinese oil firm takes over Iran’s South Pars gas project after Total left


China’s state-owned energy major CNPC has replaced France’s Total in Iran’s South Pars gas project, according to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. The French company withdrew from Iran under pressure of US sanctions.

The Chinese firm “has officially replaced Total in Phase 11 of South Pars but it has not started work practically,” he told ICANA news agency.

“Talks need to be held with CNPC… about when it will start operations,” Zanganeh added.

The French firm had a 50.1 percent stake in the project, CNPC has 30 percent, with the remaining shares belonging to Iranian national oil company subsidiary PetroPars.

Total was the first Western firm to invest in Iran’s energy sector after sanctions were lifted following the 2015 nuclear deal. It signed a contract in 2017 to develop Phase 11 of South Pars field with an initial investment of $1 billion.

The company was, however, pressured to leave Iran after the United States threatened to impose sanctions on firms that do business with the Islamic Republic. In August, Total told Iranian authorities it would withdraw from the project as it has failed to obtain a waiver from Washington’s sanctions against Iran.

The offshore South Pars field holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves ever found in one place. At current gas prices, the entire reserves of the South Pars can be estimated at around $2.9 trillion. Iran shares the field with Qatar.