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Investment needs to wait

Investment needs to wait
Total SA, Europe?s third-largest oil company, has no immediate plans to sign a delayed $5 billion deal for development of Iran?s South Pars natural-gas field.

Total SA, Europe"s third-largest oil company, has no immediate plans to sign a delayed $5 billion deal for development of Iran"s South Pars natural-gas field.

Total SA, Europe"s third-largest oil company, has no immediate plans to sign a delayed $5 billion deal for development of Iran"s South Pars natural-gas field, Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said. An agreement won"t be reached by March 20, de Margerie said today in a meeting with reporters in New York. That"s the date by which National Iranian Oil Co. Managing Director Seifollah Jashnsaz said a contract would be signed, Iran"s state-run Mehr news agency reported last week.

Total postponed investment in South Pars last year, citing Iran"s strained relations with the West. The U.S. accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Iran, which has the world"s largest gas reserves outside of Russia, has disputed the claim.

?We are continuing to negotiate with them,? de Margerie said today. ?Before anything, i.e., the political environment, it is first a question of acceptable contractual terms. We will not sign a contract that is not profitable.?

Total owns a 30 percent stake in the so-called Pars LNG venture, which entails construction of a $2 billion gas- liquefaction plant. The operation would process gas from Phase 11 of South Pars, a field that extends from Qatar"s North Field, forming the largest known gas deposit in the world.

?We"ll need this gas one day,? de Margerie said. ?How long will it take? Who knows??

Total rose 1 percent to 38.14 euros in Paris. The stock has dropped 24 percent in the past year.

UTS Offer

Total made an unsolicited, C$617 million ($493 million) takeover offer for Canadian oil-sands developer UTS Energy Corp. in January. Buying UTS would make up for expected permitting delays on Total"s own planned developments, de Margerie said. UTS called the bid ?inadequate? and urged shareholders to reject it.

?If we are successful in this takeover bid, we will have interest in a field that has already received its approval for development,? de Margerie said.

Total has stakes in Alberta"s Joslyn and Surmont oil-sands ventures. Those projects may be delayed a year or two, de Margerie said.

UTS"s main asset is a 20 percent interest in the C$25.3 billion Fort Hills development, which holds about 4 billion barrels of bitumen.

Total is awaiting tenders from UTS shareholders before announcing its next step, de Margerie said. Deadline for shares to be tendered is 8 p.m. New York time March 30, according to the bid circular.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, based in The Hague, and London-based BP Plc are Europe"s biggest oil companies.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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