Iran sees banking channels opening up

Iran's official news agency reported that French energy company Total is working to maneuver around existing U.S. sanctions pressures.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Aug. 15, 2017 at 7:02 AM
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Aug. 15 (UPI) -- With foreign energy companies signing early deals with Iran, the country's president said banking channels to the world could be opening up.

Last month, a consortium of French energy company Total, China National Petroleum Corp. and Petropars Ltd., a subsidiary of the state-run National Iranian Oil Co., signed a 20-year contract to help develop parts of the giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.

It was the first contract since Iran implemented a multi-lateral nuclear deal in early 2016. With Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earning a second term in office earlier this year, the Total-led deal cleared a path for future investments from foreign energy companies.

Rouhani, who helped steer the post-sanction economy, set a goal of signing 10 new development deals by the end of the Iranian calendar year, March 20. In a statement before parliament, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the president said "banking transactions with the world are being carried out."

Remaining U.S. sanctions on Iran make it difficult to do business with the country. Governors from the Central Bank of Iran met last month with representatives from the International Monetary Fund to discuss lingering capital issues and the U.S. government last year lifted some restrictions.

IRNA reported that Total is working to get around existing U.S. sanctions to make sure it's not a target of Washington financial pressure. French bank BNP-Paribas with hit with a hefty fine in 2014 for violating U.S. measures.

Apart from the Total deal, energy companies from Russian and Thailand were among those signing preliminary agreements to examine the reserve potential for oil fields straddling the border with Iraq.

Iran is one of the largest oil and natural gas producers in the world. One of the few members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries not party to an agreement to restrain output to balance the market, Iran produced 3.8 million barrels of oil per day in July, relatively on par with historic trends.

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