Gas talks with Total still underway
The managing director of National Iranian Gas Export Company denied the reports that Iran has stopped talks with France's Total over investment in the country's phase 11 of the South Pars gas field.
Seyyed Reza Kasaeizadeh indicated that Total is still interested to take part in the project and talks with the French company are going on, the Mehr News Agency reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the head of National Iranian Oil Company Seifollah Jashnsaz, said that he had no knowledge about reports on Total being dismissed from the project in southern Iran.
"Talks took place between Total and NIOC in Tehran last week," Jashnsaz told Mehr.
This is while according to Reuters a spokeswoman for Total in Paris declined to comment.
Deputy Head of NIOC Hojjatollah Ghanimifard told Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting on Saturday that "Total has been dismissed from investing in the project".
He did not reveal the reasons behind the decision.
Total has a memorandum of understanding with NIOC to develop phase 11, but the project was overshadowed by haggling over contract terms.
NIOC accused Total of delays and gave the Paris-based company an ultimatum to finalize work before Tehran moved forward with another partner.
Eventually, NIOC and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a 5-billion-dollar contract in Beijing on June 3 for the development of phase 11 of the South Pars gas field, replacing Total.
However, later Iran said it had resumed talks with the French energy firm on its participation in phase 11 after a gap of several months.
According to the signed contract with CNPC, Total and Malaysian Petronas can return to the project and collaborate with the Chinese CNPC, if they express readiness.
After signing the contract, Jashnsaz said that the deal came after much delay and waste of time by Total regarding the project.
Total first expanded into Iran in 1997 with a contract granted by Iranian authorities to develop phases 2 and 3 of Iran's South Pars gas field.
Total and its two partners, Gazprom and Petronas, invested more than $2 billion in Phase 2 and 3 of South Pars which began operations at the end of 2002.
Iran has the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia, almost 16 percent of the world's total.
The South Pars gas field is being developed jointly by Iran and Qatar. The Iranian share of the field is about 14 trillion cubic meters of gas, or about eight percent of the total world reserves, and more than 18 billion barrels of liquefied natural gas resources.
The Iranian part is divided into 24 phases.