Iran set to develop Pars field without Total's investment
Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said on 10 July, Iran would go ahead with a gas field development with or without Total after the French firm said it would not invest because of political risks, Reuters reported.
"This is our message. We will proceed with development with or without them," Nozari said when asked about a Financial Times report that Total was withdrawing from Iran's South Pars project.
The chief executive of French energy group Total, Christophe de Margerie, told the newspaper that his firm would not invest in Iran because the political risk was too high.
"Today we would be taking too much political risk to invest in Iran because people will say: 'Total will do anything for money'," Margerie was quoted as saying.
Total has a memorandum of understanding with state-owned National Iranian Oil Company to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars field. The firm previously said it had a long-term interest in the project but saw short-term difficulties reaching a deal.
Iran had said it wanted Total to commit to the deal by mid-year but the French government, concerned about Iran's nuclear programme, had urged Total not to invest.
In May, Royal Dutch Shell said it would pull out of developing another phase of the South Pars project.
Margerie's comments virtually cripple Tehran's hopes of boosting its gas exports because Total is the last major western energy group considering a big investment.
Total was to develop phase 11 of Iran's giant South Pars gas field to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) alongside Malaysia's Petronas. Iran has vast untapped gas reserves and wants to develop the sector for export.
Total is one of the few companies in the world thought to have the technology to exploit Iran's gas reserves. It is now unlikely to be able to boost its gas exports significantly until late next decade.