Iran to proceed on gas deal even 'without Total'

Iran has dismissed the impact of Western firms quitting and says it has enough of a cash pile from windfall oil earnings to carry out projects on its own and says it will find other firms particularly from energy-hungry Asia to invest.

Iran to proceed on gas deal even 'without Total'
Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said on Thursday 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.

"This is our message. We will proceed with development with or without them," Nozari told reporters 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 FT in a interview published on Thursday 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'," the FT quoted Margerie 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 had urged Total not to invest.

In May, rival Royal Dutch Shell said it would pull out of developing another phase of the South Pars project.

Iran has dismissed the impact of Western firms quitting and says it has enough of a cash pile from windfall oil earnings to carry out projects on its own and says it will find other firms particularly from energy-hungry Asia to invest.

Iran has the world's second-biggest gas reserves after Russia but has been slow to develop them for exports because of factors including U.S. sanctions which have deterred investors and hindered the country's access to some technology.

Reuters
Last Mod: 10 Temmuz 2008, 17:45
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