Total in Talks For Stake in LNG Export Facility

Total in Talks For Stake in LNG Export FacilityTotal in Talks For Stake in LNG Export Facility

Total is in talks to buy a multi-billion dollar stake in Iran's partly-built liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility, Iran LNG, seeking to unlock vast gas reserves.

The French oil major -- the first of its peers to strike deals in Iran after sanctions -- seeks entry into Iran LNG at a discount to the pre-sanctions price in exchange for reviving the stalled project, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. A third source confirmed Total was in the running for a stake, alongside several other oil majors, but any deal was still some way off, Reuters reported.

Total declined to comment. Iran's National Gas Export Co., a central stakeholder in the project, did not respond to requests for comment by email and phone.

"Iran is trying to revamp its oil and gas projects and the abandoned LNG plant is one of them," the third source added.

Iran shares the world's biggest gas field with Qatar, which has used the reserves to build over a dozen giant liquefaction plants to chill gas into a liquid for export on ships -- a move Iran is keen to replicate. The Iranian part of the field, known as South Pars, contains over 14 trillion cubic meters of gas, according to the Pars Oil and Gas Company website.

Iran aims to grow gas output to 1 trillion cubic meters by 2018, up from 160.5 billion cubic meters in 2012, before the latest sanctions took effect. But it currently has no ability to freeze its gas into LNG for tanker exports.

However, Total aims to commit $2 billion to develop the 11th phase of the South Pars field this summer - supplies from which could be used to feed Iran LNG - though that investment hinges on the renewal of US sanctions waivers.

Any deal for a stake in Iran LNG would also likely face similar hurdles. An Iranian industry source with ties to Iran LNG said Total moved several employees to the firm's offices in Tehran last year as part of the discussions.

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