Total poised to pull out of Iran's SP11 project without U.S. waiver

Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran

What Happened: French oil and energy company Total announced that it may withdraw from the Iran South Pars 11 (SP11) energy project, following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Reuters reported May 16.

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

Total said it would not be making any further commitments towards the Iranian South Pars project for now, and added it was engaged with French and U.S. authorities over the possibility of a waiver to the project.

"On 8 May 2018, President Donald Trump announced the United States' decision to withdraw from the JCPOA (nuclear agreement) and to reinstate the USA sanctions that were in force before the JCPOA's implementation, subject to certain wind down periods", Total said in a statement.

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But the reach of the USA financial system, the dominance of the dollar and the presence of European companies' operations in the United States all weaken any potential EU counter-measures.

The SP11 project is a gas development project dedicated to the supply of domestic gas to the domestic Iranian market, which convened on July 4, 2017.

The project waiver should include protection of the Company from any secondary sanction as per US legislation, it added. France, Germany and Britain are leading a European effort to safeguard Europe's economic interests but have few options that pose any threat to the United States.

The French state-backed oil group said that without an exemption from the USA it would halt work at the world's largest gas field and wind down all its activities by November 4.

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Joe Kaeser, the CEO of Germany's Siemens, told CNN his company would not be able to do any new business with Tehran. "With that in mind it's a logical decision".

Total said it was working with French authorities towards trying to secure a waiver for the South Pars project. Russian Federation has also said it remains committed to the deal.

A withdrawal from the Iran project would not affect Total's current overall production targets as the group had since opened up other growth opportunities, it said. Chinese state-owned oil and gas company CNPC holds a 30 percent share and National Iranian Oil Co subsidiary Petropars 19.9 percent.

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