Total poised to pull out of Iran's SP11 project without United States waiver

The South Pars gas field facilities in the southern Iranian port town of Assaluyeh                  AFP  Atta Kenare

The US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal between Iran and an alliance of western powers was taken earlier this month, despite opposition from France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and threatens a huge swathe of global business deals.

French energy firm Total on Wednesday said it might not be able to continue its gas development project in Iran, unless it gets a waiver from the U.S.to protect it from reimposed sanctions.

Oil companies have been forced to reassess their investment plans in the OPEC producer, however, in the wake of the May 8 move by the U.S. to pull out of the worldwide nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions on the country.

In a statement, Total said it "will have to unwind all related operations" before November 4, unless it's granted a specific waiver by United States authorities that would protect it against sanctions.

In announcing his withdrawal from the deal, Trump warned companies that they face sanctions if they do business with Iran.

Total said any waiver would need to include protection from secondary sanctions that Washington might impose on companies that continue to do business with Iran.

Iran has said it may start enriching uranium again if it can no longer see any economic benefit from sticking to the deal.

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These might include the loss of financing in dollars by USA banks, the loss of US shareholders and the inability to continue its USA operations, it said.

France, Germany and Britain are leading a European effort to safeguard Europe's economic interests in Iran.

The company also confirmed its 5%/year average production growth target between 2016 and 2022, noting "various growth opportunities which have been captured by Total in recent months."Total also said its actual investment to date with respect to the south Pars contract is less than Eur40 million. With that in mind it's a logical decision".

A report by Reuters said Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran risks exposing European countries that have since invested in Iran to renewed USA sanctions, after "wind-down" periods of three to six months expire.

In an unintended twist, U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to threaten European companies that continue to invest in Iran may open the door to Chinese rivals.

Total's prospects of securing a waiver that would allow it to continue with the South Pars deal look slim.

CNPC has a 30% stake in the venture, with Petropars at 19.9%, leaving Total with an operatorship of 50.1%.

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