Total pulls back from Iran

10-07-2008

Total pulls back from Iran
French energy group Total has pulled out from investing in Iran due to the political situation, the last Wwestern oil company to withdraw from the country.

In an interview with the Financial Times, chief executive Christophe de Margerie said it is too risky to invest in Iran, following weeks of tension with Israel.

Total was due to develop Iran's huge natural gas reserves with several other companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and Spain's Repsol. But after the two pulled out last week, Total was the last investor.

Mr de Margerie told the FT: "Today we would be taking too much political risk to invest in Iran because people will say: 'Total will do anything for money'."

The move leaves Iran without the technical know-how to raise its gas production significantly until the next decade.

Washington has been putting pressure on firms not to operate in the country because of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Tensions between the US and Iran rose further this week after Iran tested a missile capable of hitting Israel.

Mr de Margerie was not impressed by the policy, telling the newspaper: "You take two major countries [Iran and Iraq] out of the system and then you say: 'There is not enough oil and gas.' Oh no, surprise, surprise."

Total has been associated with Iran's South Pars gas field for more than a decade and has not ruled out getting involved in the project at a later stage.

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