France’s Total: Decision on Iran LNG Far off

Total reiterated on Thursday it was still in talks with Iran to carry out a multibillion dollar gas project but added a decision on investment was not in sight. “We are still in talks as costs have spiraled,” a Total spokeswoman said. “We are not in a position to take a decision on investment now,” she added.

Iran’s oil minister on Wednesday said the country would carry out the project without Total if the French major bowed to political pressure to steer clear of the Islamic Republic.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called earlier this week for tougher international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear work and warned Total and Gaz de France to refrain from investing in OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer.

“We have no date as to when we will finish studying (the costs),” the spokeswoman said. “And we don’t comment on a minister’s comment,” she added.

Pars LNG, Iran’s first LNG export terminal, would be fed by developing part of the giant South Pars gas field.

Iran said the project was worth $2 billion in 2004 when Total agreed to the deal, but construction costs have spiraled throughout the energy sector since then. The terminal was due to start in 2009 but the date has been pushed back to 2011.

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