French energy firm Total on Wednesday said it might not be able to continue its gas development project in Iran, unless it gets a waiver from the U.S.to protect it from reimposed sanctions.
Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran risks exposing European countries that have since invested in Iran to renewed U.S. sanctions, after "wind-down" periods of three to six months expire.
The Palestinian Authority's main daily newspaper launched a vitriolic attack on the United States this week, following the opening on Monday of.
The move follows President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the USA from the global nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA) and to reinstate the United States sanctions that were in force before the deal's implementation.
In a statement, Total said it "will have to unwind all related operations" before November 4, unless it's granted a specific waiver by U.S. authorities that would protect it against secondary sanctions.
Since the July 2015 nuclear accord, Total, together with its project partners, has been carrying on tendering for subcontracts and other preparatory work to develop the eleventh phase of the South Pars development, which would supply the domestic market in Iran.
"In these circumstances, Total will not take any further commitment related to the SP11 project and, in accordance with its contractual commitments vis-a-vis the Iranian authorities, is engaging with the French and USA authorities to examine the possibility of a project waiver", said the company. Russian Federation has also said it remains committed to the deal.
Total's announcement comes after German insurer Allianz and Danish oil product tanker operator Maersk Tankers said they were winding down their businesses in Iran.
For the French company to stay, a project waiver would have to protect the company from "any secondary sanction as per USA legislation", it said. "They have us by the throat because so much business is conducted and cleared in dollars", one European investment banker said. "With that in mind it's a logical decision".
Industry sources told Reuters this week that China's CNPC, which holds a 30 percent stake in the South Pars project, was ready to take over Total's majority stake in the project if it pulled out.