China's CNPC pulls out of Iran gas project
Iran's oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Sunday that China's CNPC has withdrawn from the development of an offshore gas field and that state-owned Petropars will take over the entire project.
The South Pars gas field was to be developed jointly by France's Total, China National Petroleum Corporation and Petropars under a $4.8-billion deal signed in July 2017.
The deal came after Iran reached a 2015 agreement with world powers that gave it relief from sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme, ending years of economic isolation.
Total left the project 3 months after US President Donald Trump's administration withdrew from the nuclear accord in May last year and reimposed sanctions on Iran's oil industry and other key sectors of the economy.
"Phase 11 (of South Pars) will be entirely developed by Petropars company," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the ministry's official website.
Asked whether CNPC International had abandoned the project, Zanganeh said: "Yes, they have".
The other parties to the Iran nuclear deal - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - have vowed to stay in the accord despite the US withdrawal, but their efforts have so far borne no fruit.
Zanganeh said that Petropars did not take the lead on South Pars from the outset because "we wanted to attract foreign investment for this project" and that Petropars was "supposed to learn alongside these (foreign) companies".
He added that the development of a pressure booster platform would depend on talks between Iran's MAPNA Group and other companies.
Petropars signed a $440 million agreement in September with another state-owned firm, Pars Oil and Gas Company, to develop the Balal field in the Gulf.
The minister said Iran will not succumb to US pressure and will use every possible way to export its oil.
"We will use every possible way to export our oil and we will not succumb to America's pressure because exporting oil is Iran's legitimate right," Zanganeh said.
Iran's crude oil exports were reduced by more than 80 per cent when the United States re-imposed sanctions on the country last November after President Donald Trump pulled out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran has the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas, but it has not yet become a major exporter because of international sanctions imposed on the country for decades.
SHANA also quoted Zanganeh saying that Iran wanted to improve ties with Gulf Arab countries.
"We want to be friends with all regional countries ... they must not regard us as their enemy ... Our mutual enemy is outside the Middle East."
- AFP, Reuters