France's Engie Seeks Iran Reentry

France's Engie Seeks Iran ReentryFrance's Engie Seeks Iran Reentry

French major energy company Engie has expressed willingness to return to Iran's rich energy market while Tehran and Paris are building on energy cooperation, in the latest chapter of the fast-growing ties between the two countries in the post-sanctions era.

The official portal of the Oil Ministry cited an Engie official as saying that the French company is closely monitoring investment opportunities in Iran's rich oil and gas sector, Mehr News Agency.

"We are happy with the positive developments on Tehran's nuclear program and are ready to return (to Iran) in the near future," the ministry quoted the unnamed official as saying.

The official reportedly said Engie sees Iran as a country with massive hydrocarbon resources and huge technical potential, adding that it wants to buy natural gas from Iran.

Engie, known as GDF Suez prior to April 2015, is a French multinational company operating in the fields of electricity generation and distribution, natural gas and renewable energy.

Before the sanctions, Engie had offered plans for cooperation with Iranian companies, including NIOC. The French government owns approximately one-third of the company.

Meanwhile, the Grenoble University of France, in cooperation with the National Iranian Oil Company, has started a training course in Tehran on oil and gas projects management, Mehr News Agency reported.

A high-ranking delegation of French officials and business-owners, headed by Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll and Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Matthias Fekl, along with representatives from 150 companies, including Total and Peugeot Citroen, arrived in Tehran last week to explore areas of bilateral cooperation.

Iran and six world powers reached a historic deal on July 14 in Vienna that would limit the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear program in return for removing sanctions on its energy and financial industries.

In the aftermath of the nuclear deal, some French executives have said their firms have fallen behind their main European, American and Asian rivals.

French imports from Iran fell to just €62 million in 2013 from €1.77 billion in 2011. Exports fell to €494 million in 2013 from €1.66 billion in 2011, according to French Foreign Ministry estimates.

Engie is carefully following in the footsteps of French oil and gas giant Total that was active in developing Iranian energy projects for more than 20 years, including the development of Iran's biggest gas field, South Pars, which holds about half of the country's gas reserves.

However, it ceased operations in Iran in 2010 following disagreements over contract terms as well as pressure from the French and US governments over oil and trade sanctions against Tehran.