(Adds detail, background)
By Bate Felix
PARIS Feb 9 French oil major Total
plans to make a final investment decision on a $2 billion gas
project in Iran by the summer, but the decision hinges on the
renewal of U.S. sanctions waivers, the company's chief executive
said on Thursday.
Total was the first Western energy company to sign a major
deal with Tehran since the lifting of international sanctions
against Iran. Its project aims to develop South Pars 11, which
is part of the world's largest gas field.
Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said South Pars 11 will be
among a couple of projects to be approved by the company to
start by the summer, if nothing is modified with regards to the
"There are two executive orders that are supposed to be
renewed before summer," he said, explaining that the
administration of previous U.S. President Barack Obama had
signed waivers suspending the sanctions.
"These are supposed to last about 18 months. So President
Trump will have to, or not, renew these sanction waivers,"
Pouyanne told journalists in Paris.
New U.S. President Donald Trump has said the Iran nuclear
deal, which ended a diplomatic standoff between Iran and six
world powers over the country's nuclear policy and opens the way
for western investment, was "the worst deal ever negotiated."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former CEO of
Total's rival Exxon Mobil, has called for a full review
of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Pouyanne said that based on the nuclear deal that was
signed, the U.S. government would have to prove that Iran had
breached the agreement, for the new Trump-led administration to
decide against renewing the waivers.
"So, either the waivers are renewed and as such, respect the
Iran nuclear deal, which will allow us to execute the contract
and we'll do so, or they decide to tear up the Iran nuclear
agreement," Pouyanne said.
"In that case, we'll not be able to work in Iran."
He added that there was uncertainty on what the new White
House administration would do.
Pouyanne said the decision to go ahead with the gas deal
last November was a 'win-win' one, and that Total had some
guarantees in place that protects the company financially if the
project does not go through.
(Reporting by Bate Felix and Benjamin Mallet; Editing by Sudip