Iran General NewsTotal wants quick deal on Kashagan, return to Iran

Total wants quick deal on Kashagan, return to Iran

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Reuters: France’s Total hopes for a swift end to the dispute between Kazakhstan and operators of its giant Kashagan oil field, but a formal deadline of Nov. 30 will be hard to meet, the head of Total said. By Benoit Van Overstraeten

TIENEN, Belgium, Nov 21 (Reuters) – France’s Total hopes for a swift end to the dispute between Kazakhstan and operators of its giant Kashagan oil field, but a formal deadline of Nov. 30 will be hard to meet, the head of Total said.

Christophe de Margerie said on Wednesday that Total was also keen to pursue its projects in Iran, which have been bogged down by discussions over terms and the French government’s request to French companies not to invest in Iran.

Kazakhstan’s energy minister said last week the settlement of the dispute over Kashagan, the world’s biggest oil find in three decades, could go beyond the Nov. 30 deadline but that a deal was possible by the end of the year.

De Margerie said it would be hard to meet the formal deadline given that time is now so short, but was keen to see a settlement quickly.

“Let’s do it as fast as possible. One must not give too much importance to deadlines… The goal is to find a solution as fast as possible,” de Margerie said on the sidelines of the inauguration of a solar energy production plant in Belgium.

Kashagan’s development has been plagued by cost overruns and delays which have irked Kazakhstan.

The oil-rich country has accused ENI and its partners — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp, Total, Conoco Phillips and Japan’s Inpex Holdings Inc — of ecological and other violations.

Asked about plans in Iran, where Total has yet to finalise a deal for the construction of Iran’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, Pars LNG, de Margerie said the group wanted to continue the investments it had made there.

Tehran has told Total and Shell to finalise their gas deals with Iran by June 2008 or the giant South Pars gas project will go ahead without them.

Pars LNG would be fed by developing part of the giant South Pars gas field.

“When a country says it wants to develop resources on its own, it’s its choice, I have nothing to say,” de Margerie said. “I simply say that we would like, one day in any case, to resume or continue the investments we made in Iran.”

In September, France urged companies to exercise restraint in dealing with Iran as Europe and the United States are preparing economic sanctions in case of a further deterioration in relations over Iran’s nuclear plans.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstaeten, Writing by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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