French energy giant Total will push ahead with a $4.8 billion deal to develop an Iranian gas field and will seek a waiver if Washington re-imposes sanctions, the firm's CEO has said.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from a 2015 deal curtailing Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, unless it is "improved" by May 12.
"If the U.S. decides to put back the sanctions, we have to look at what the consequences are," Total chief Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview with Abu Dhabi daily The National published yesterday. "Then we will see, either Donald Trump decides to maintain the waivers and we will move on with the project, (or) we will ask for a waiver from the U.S. authorities."
Defying pressure from Washington, Total signed a deal with Iran in July to head up an international consortium to develop Iran's vast South Pars offshore gas field, alongside China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran's Petropars.
In January, Trump demanded changes to what he has called a "terrible" nuclear deal or the United States would withdraw. European parties to the agreement are desperate to save it and have been scrambling to find ways to persuade Trump not to rip it up. If Washington does walk away from the deal, Pouyanne said, Total will argue that as the project was "awarded prior to that decision during the period of time that we could sign". That could allow the firm to benefit from a clause allowing the gas agreement to stand.