Iran Says Chinese State Oil Firm Pulls Out From $5b Deal

Iran Says China Has Pulled Out Of South Pars Natural Gas Project

Iran's oil minister said Sunday that China's CNPC has withdrawn from the development of an offshore gas field and that state-owned Petropars will take over the entire project.

Officials in Beijing didn't immediately acknowledge their decision.

Zangeneh said Iranians alone would redevelop the portion of its South Pars oil field. Phone calls to the CNPC rang unanswered on Sunday and its website bore no mention of the withdrawal.

Since then, Washington has reimposed sanctions on Tehran's oil exports.

Iran has the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas, but it has not yet become a major exporter because of global sanctions imposed on the country for decades.

Much of its natural gas comes from its massive South Pars field, which it shares with Qatar.

Under terms of the initial deal, Total was to have a 50.1% stake, with CNPC getting 30% and the Iranian firm Petropars getting 19.9%. With Total's withdrawal, CNPC had taken over the French firm's stake. TOTAL pulled of the deal immediately after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement in 2018, but CNPC's continued participation had remained unclear. In response, Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal, under which Tehran accepted to curb its nuclear activities in return for lifting most global sanctions.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi reiterated on October 6 that Tehran will continue to reduce its compliance with commitments under the deal if European countries that signed the pact - France, Germany, and Britain - do not take steps to shield Iran's economy from us sanctions. In late September, the USA sanctioned Chinese shipping firms it said were ferrying Iranian crude oil. "Our mutual enemy is outside the Middle East". He added, "We have no dispute with Saudi Arabia ..."

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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