Iran General News Iran says talks still on with Total over South...

Iran says talks still on with Total over South Pars

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ImageReuters: Iran has not stopped talks with France's Total over investment in the country's phase 11 of the South Pars gas field, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Sunday. By Parisa Hafezi

ImageTEHRAN, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Iran has not stopped talks with France's Total over investment in the country's phase 11 of the South Pars gas field, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Sunday.

Deputy head of NIOC Hojjatollah Ghanimifard had told state television on Saturday that Iran had excluded Total from phase 11 of its giant South Pars gas field.

However, head of National Iranian Oil Co Seifollah Jashnsaz said he had no knowledge about reports on Total being dismissed from the project in southern Iran.

"Talks took place between Total and NIOC in Tehran last week," Jashnsaz told Mehr.

Another Iranian official also told Mehr that Total was still interested in the project.

"Total is interested to take part in the phase II of the South Pars and talks with Total are going on," said Reza Kasaizadeh, head of National Iranian Gas Co.

A spokeswoman for Total in Paris declined to comment.

Total had a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to develop Phase 11 but the project has been overshadowed by haggling over contract terms.

In June, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said Tehran had signed a $4.7 billion contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to help develop phase 11 of South Pars, replacing Total, which it had accused of delays.

However, later Iran said it had resumed talks with the French energy firm on its participation in phase 11 after a gap of several months.

Iran has the world's second largest gas reserves, almost 16 percent of the world's total, but currently has no major net exports, partly because U.S. and U.N. sanctions have deterred investment by Western firms with expertise and technology.

The South Pars reservoir is shared by Iran and Qatar. The Iranian part is divided into 24 phases. (Additional reporting by Anna Willard in Paris; editing by Karen Foster)

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