Reports indicate that the stake of French oil and gas company Total in Iran’s South Pars gas project has been replaced by China’s major utility corporation, CNPC. The multibillion dollar project is located at the offshore field referred to as North Field by Qatar and South Pars by Iran, which holds the largest natural gas reserves in the world ever found in one place.
According to news agencies, Bijan Zanganeh, Oil Minister of Iran, had informed about the move on 25 November 2018. Zanganeh supposedly revealed that Total has officially been replaced by China’s CNPC in phase 11 of South Pars, though its work has not been started practically. He further said that talks are needed to be held with CNPC about when the company would be starting operations.
The news was also confirmed by the investment Director of Iran’s state oil firm NIOC, Mohammad Mostafavi, who was quoted saying that Total from France has been replaced by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), which has now acquired 80.1 percent stake in the South Pars gas field’s phase 11. Both Total and CNPC representatives were not available for immediate comments on the matter.
As reported previously, the French utility corporation had told Iranian officials previously that if it failed to secure a waiver from the United States sanctions against Iran, it would have to withdraw itself from the South Pars gas project.
Records confirm that Total held a 50.1 percent stake in the massive project, while CNPC already held a 30 percent stake. The remaining 19.9 percent is apparently held by the National Iranian Oil Company subsidiary PetroPars.
Total S.A. had previously inked a deal to develop South Pars field’s Phase II, in 2017, with an initial investment of US$1 billion. The deal had marked the first major Western energy investment in Iran after the lifting of sanctions in 2016.