PARIS (Reuters) - French oil and gas major Total will try to push ahead with its Iran gas project if the United States decides to impose unilateral sanctions on Teheran after President Donald Trump said he will not certify the landmark Iran nuclear deal.
Total Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview with International Oil Daily the company would examine the consequences of Trump’s decision, and if there are any laws that obliges it to withdraw from Iran, then it will comply.
“If Iran is compliant, if the European Union and China and Russia continue to consider that the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) can be applied, then that means the U.S. would have to take unilateral sanctions...,” Pouyanne said in the interview published on Tuesday.
“But we will try on our side to obtain the comfort that we can continue [with] the project, which will be our priority,” he added.
Last week, Trump refused to formally certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear deal, defying both allies and adversaries. He warned that he might ultimately terminate the agreement.
The U.S. Congress now has about two months to decide whether to reinstate sanctions.
Pouyanne said Total was weighing its options and all would depend on the U.S. Congress and if it decides to reinstate the sanctions, and what kinds of sanctions.
Total became the first Western oil major to sign an agreement with Iran to develop phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars, the world’s largest gas field. Total is the operator of the $5 billion project with a 50.1 percent stake.
Iran’s deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs told a conference in London separately on Tuesday that Trump’s headline policy will not hurt the country’s oil industry.
“We have signed a contract in Iran. If we can move forward, we’ll move forward. If we cannot, we will have to stop. That’s life,” Pouyanne is quoted in the interview as saying.
He added that there was little financial risk to Total from the current situation because it will only make an investment decision on the project around the end of the year.
“We have launched the tenders, we are supposed to award contracts by year-end, so all that is fitting well in terms of the calendar,” Pouyanne said, adding that it will have clarity by the end of the year after the decision by the U.S. Congress.
Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and David Evans