FILE - In this file photo taken on Oct.12, 2016, the logo of French oil giant Total SA is pictured at company headquarters in La Defense business district, outside Paris. French oil and gas company Total says it will not continue a multi-billion dollars project in Iran unless it is granted a waiver by U.S. authorities. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
Total has a 50.1 per cent stake in the 20-year South Pars project, alongside China National Petroleum Corp, which holds a 30 per cent and Iran’s Petropars with a 19.9 per cent stake.Michel Euler/AP

Total may need to offload Iran gas stake amid looming US sanctions, analysts



French oil major Total may have to consider options to sell its stake in a $4.8bn Iranian gas deal to its partners to avoid being slapped with US sanctions following the Donald Trump's administration withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, analysts said.

Total has a 50.1 per cent stake in the 20-year South Pars project, alongside China National Petroleum Corp, which holds a 30 per cent and Iran’s Petropars with a 19.9 per cent stake.

"Total would require applying for the US sanction exemption. However, approving such an exemption by the US treasury seems unlikely and Total will very likely have to pull out of the South Pars Phase 11 project and pass its share to CNPC," said Siamak Adibi, head of Middle East gas team at consultancy FGE. "However, CNPC will also likely comply with the US sanctions too and will either withdraw or play for time."

On Wednesday, Total said in a statement that it would “unwind all related operations” before the 180-day period indicated by the Trump administration for companies to stop engaging with Iranian entities, following the US exit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on May 8. Total said in the statement that it would await “a specific project waiver” from US authorities as nearly 90 per cent of its financing came from US banks, which put it at risk of future sanctions violations.

“Their stake will go to CNPC [China National Petroleum Corporation] and behind the curtains, there may be a possibility of Total having the option to come back, if the situation changes,” said an analyst who did not wish to be named.

A full exit was unlikely, he added, noting that the possibility of Mr Trump’s failure to get re-elected for a second term would incentivise the French oil company to find a way back to its current interests in developing phase eleven of South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, which Iran shares with Qatar.

Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne had said in an interview with The National in February that should the US not sign a waiver on the company's interest in the project, they would seek to benefit from a "grandfather clause" as the scheme had been awarded two years prior to the collapse of the Iran nuclear deal.

Total’s possible exit from Iran comes as a massive blow to Iran’s slowly resurgent energy industry, which had looked to the JCPOA as a lifeline to push ahead with much needed foreign investment and expertise.

Iran is home to the world’s largest reserves of gas and is the Middle East’s third-largest oil producer. Post-EU sanctions, Iran managed to reinstate its production capacity to pre-sanctions levels and had boosted its exports to Europe and Asia.

Its agreement with Total in 2016 to develop phase 11 was crucial to Iran achieving self-sufficiency in gas as well as developing later export capabilities. Iran consumes nearly all of the gas currently produced in the country and is reliant on imports from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to meet shortages during its harsh winter months .

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Total’s exit would leave the deal to ramp up production capacity in South Pars in jeopardy, with the Chinese partner unlikely to match pace with Iran’s ambitions to become an exporter, said the analyst.

“Knowing the Chinese behaviour in the past in Iran in the oil and gas field, they would be very slow. They would try and relaunch all the tenders that Total has done so far, which will take about a year on its own but in the end in the case that CNPC wouldn't want to do it, then perhaps the National Iranian Oil Company will sign another contract with Petropars,” he added.

The exit from Iran is unlikely to dent Total's finances, Mr Adibi said.

"There won’t be a big impact on Total as Total was quite clear in its contract with Iran at the beginning and there are clauses prepared in the contract for the sanction snap back," he said.

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Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
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Company profile

Company name: Suraasa

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Founders: Rishabh Khanna, Ankit Khanna and Sahil Makker

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Cheat’s nigiri 
This is easier to make than sushi rolls. With damp hands, form the cooled rice into small tablet shapes. Place slices of fresh, raw salmon, mackerel or trout (or smoked salmon) lightly touched with wasabi, then press, wasabi side-down, onto the rice. Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger.

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This fusion dish combines Asian fried rice with a western omelette. To make, fry cooked and cooled sushi rice with chopped vegetables such as carrot and onion and lashings of sweet-tangy ketchup, then wrap in a soft egg omelette.

Deconstructed sushi salad platter 
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Thanksgiving meals to try

World Cut Steakhouse, Habtoor Palace Hotel, Dubai. On Thursday evening, head chef Diego Solis will be serving a high-end sounding four-course meal that features chestnut veloute with smoked duck breast, turkey roulade accompanied by winter vegetables and foie gras and pecan pie, cranberry compote and popcorn ice cream.

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Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, The Address Hotel, Dubai. This New Orleans-style restaurant is keen to take the stress out of entertaining, so until December 25 you can order a full seasonal meal from its Takeaway Turkey Feast menu, which features turkey, homemade gravy and a selection of sides – think green beans with almond flakes, roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole and bread stuffing – to pick up and eat at home.

The Mattar Farm Kitchen, Dubai. From now until Christmas, Hattem Mattar and his team will be producing game- changing smoked turkeys that you can enjoy at home over the festive period.

Nolu’s, The Galleria Mall, Maryah Island Abu Dhabi. With much of the menu focused on a California inspired “farm to table” approach (with Afghani influence), it only seems right that Nolu’s will be serving their take on the Thanksgiving spread, with a brunch at the Downtown location from 12pm to 4pm on Friday.

Dr Amal Khalid Alias revealed a recent case of a woman with daughters, who specifically wanted a boy.

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On day three of the process, 14 embryos were biopsied for gender selection.

The next day, a pre-implantation genetic report revealed four normal male embryos, three female and seven abnormal samples.

Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 


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