June 19 (UPI) -- Iran is in the final stages of signing agreements with French energy company Total to develop parts of the giant South Pars field, Iran's energy minister said.
The French energy company, under pressure from Washington in the pre-sanctions era, was the source of Iranian frustration after showing a lack of progress in developing parts of the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf. With sanctions pressures easing in the wake of a multilateral nuclear deal, chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in February that future growth could come from projects in the Islamic republic.
Total is among the major European energy companies moving into the Iranian energy sector with the recent signings of memoranda of understanding with its Iranian counterparts. Energy Minister Bijan Zangeneh said during the weekend that contract talks with Total were close to conclusion.
"Iran and Total are summing up and reviewing signing a contract on the development of Phase 11 of South Pars and they are in final stages of doing so," he was quoted in the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.
Zangeneh met on the sidelines of a multilateral conference steered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries with Pouyanne in March. In November, Total signed a head of agreement deal with the National Iranian Oil Co. to help develop phase 11 of the South Pars natural gas complex in the Persian Gulf, the largest of its kind in the world. For Total, Pouyanne said it's a return to business that started more than 10 years ago.
European majors are warming to Iran in the post-sanctions environment. Austrian energy company OMV in late January hosted representatives from Iran's Dana Energy Co., a player in exploration and development, to sign new arrangements for potential work.
Total had no response to questions on the pending Iranian contract.