A consortium led by France's Total is today set to sign a multi billion-dollar contract to develop an Iranian offshore gas field, in what will be the country's first major energy deal since sanctions were lifted in 2016.
A spokesman for Total confirmed the company will sign the contract to produce gas for the Iranian market from 2021, adding that the 20-year deal with will be the first Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) signed in Iran.
Officials in Tehran signed the agreement, which will see the firms develop a portion of the massive South Pars offshore field that Iran shares with Qatar. The state-owned China National Petroleum Corp has 30-percent stake and Iran's Petropars has 19.9 percent.
Iran has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves and the second-biggest stores of natural gas.
Total is extremely familiar with the slice of South Pars that it will work on, having scoped it out before sanctions made work in Iran impossible for big global companies.
"As for Total's presence in Iran's petrochemical industry, nothing has been finalized yet but effective talks have been held", he told the Tasnim News Agency on Monday.
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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.
He said: "It is worth taking the risk at $1bn because it opens a huge market".
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.
To make it happen, the Paris-based company spent years maintaining relationships in Iran even after Western sanctions were tightened in 2012 and then took months to negotiate the details after announcing a preliminary agreement last year.
Pouyanne, for his part, stressed the importance of making efforts to implement the deal and expressed hope that it would prepare the ground for further cooperation among Iran and other European companies.
This is the first IPC contract signed in Iran.
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