French energy giant Total signed a multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran, the first by a foreign firm in more than a decade.
Based on the deal, Total would invest an initial $1 billion in the development of Phase 11 of South Pars offshore gas field.
The giant French energy corporation would lead a consortium over the project that would also comprise China’s CNPC and Iran’s Petropars. It will take a 50.1 percent stake in the South Pars Phase 11 project, while CNPC will own 30 percent and Iran's Petropars 19.9 percent.
It is by far the biggest vote of confidence in the Islamic republic since sanctions were lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, AFP reported.
Total's CEO Patrick Pouyanne and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namadar Zanganeh signed the 20-year deal, which would eventually see the consortium pour $4.8 billion into the project.
Pouyanne would later meet President Hassan Rouhani, the news service added.
The aim is to start pumping into Iran's domestic grid in 2021, eventually reaching above 56 million cubic meters (around 2 billion cubic feet) of gas per day.
Last November, Total signed a basic agreement, worth $4.8 billion to develop South Pars Phase 11 in cooperation with China’s CNPC and Iran’s Petropars.
The company’s CEO and Chairman Patrick Pouyanné said in February that a final investment decision over the project hinges on whether the US would renew sanctions waivers against Iran or not.
Total had signed up to develop Phase 11 back in 2009 but was forced to abandon its projects in Iran in 2012 when France joined a US-led campaign to put sanctions, including an oil embargo, against the country.