Total to sign $4.8 bn gas deal with Iran: oil ministry

Tehran (AFP) –


French energy giant Total is to sign a $4.8 billion agreement to develop an Iranian offshore gas field, the oil ministry said Sunday, in the biggest foreign deal since sanctions were eased.

"The international agreement for the development of phase 11 of South Pars will be signed on Monday in the presence of the oil ministry and managers of Total, the Chinese company CNPC and Iranian company Petropars," a ministry spokesman told AFP.

Total signed a preliminary deal with Iran in November as the lead partner alongside China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran's Petropars.

The French company will operate the site with a 50.1 percent stake in the $4.8 billion (4.2 billion euro) project.

CNPC will own 30 percent and Petropars 19.9 percent.

The French firm was initially due to sign the contract in early 2017, but CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in February that it would wait to see whether the US adminstration of President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Trump threatened during his campaign to tear up a landmark accord between Iran and six world powers which came into force in January 2016, which eased sanctions in exchange for curbs to Tehran's nuclear programme.

But he has softened his stance since taking office, with his administration continuing to waive the sanctions every few months as required under the deal.

However, Washington has imposed new measures targeting Iran's missile programme and activities in the region.

The 20-year phase 11 project will eventually pump 50.9 million cubic metres (1.8 billion cubic feet) of gas per day into Iran's national grid.

It marks a breakthrough in the oil ministry's efforts to attract Western investment and know-how to improve its outdated energy infrastructure.