Oil Minister defends Total Gas Deal in Parliament

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh in an open session of the parliament briefed the lawmakers on a controversial $5 billion gas deal recently signed with France’s energy giant Total, saying the agreement would serve the Islamic Republic’s interests.

Addressing the open session of the parliament on Wednesday, Zanganeh defended the deal with Total to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field in southern Iran and said the contract “would create security” for Iran.

“If the contractor (Total) stops or withdraws from the implementation (of the deal) for any reason, no compensation will be paid to it,” the minister added.

He further made it clear that the contract with the French company will not limit the use of domestic capacities, saying that Iranian companies can also cooperate in the major project.

The comments came as some parliamentarians, experts and top figures in oil and gas industry have voiced their strong opposition to the gas deal, saying Total has hatched “a sinister plot” against the Islamic Republic.

Total and China’s National Petroleum Company (CNPC) struck the $5 billion agreement with Iran earlier on July 3.

The agreement was signed at a ceremony in Tehran attended by Zangeneh, Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne and senior officials from China’s CNPC and Iran’s Petropars.

Total holds a 50.1 interest in the South Pars project with state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation owning 30 percent and Iran’s Petropars 19.9 percent.

The development of Phase 11 of the South Pars project will cost up to $5 billion.

The vast offshore gas field is shared between Iran and Qatar, where Total is also a major player in gas production as well as in oil and refining. Tehran calls the giant field South Pars while Doha calls it the North Field.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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