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Total takes hit on Iran investigation

July 27, 2012 at 8:21 AM

PARIS, July 27 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total said it set aside millions of dollars as a precaution against U.S. securities investigations into natural gas contracts with Iran.

Total announced Friday that it recorded a second quarter profit of $3.5 billion. It said that "in light of recent progress" in discussions with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, it provisioned $385 million "to resolve issues arising from the investigation," however.

Total said that it was under investigation for its work in the Iranian natural gas sector in the 1990s.

China National Petroleum Corp. replaced Total at the South Pars natural gas complex in the Persian Gulf in 2009. Political and economic pressure on Iran has made some energy companies reluctant to move forward with major energy projects in the country. Tehran has said it was frustrated with CNPC's performance there.

The South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf forms one of the largest offshore natural gas fields. By Iran's estimate, its portion of the field, which it shares with Qatar, holds about 8 percent of the world's natural gas reserves.

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