No big oil company can risk doing business with Iran, Total CEO says

French energy giant Total has yet to permanently pull out of Iran following the renewal of U.S. sanctions, although CEO Patrick Pouyanne on Wednesday sounded a pessimistic note about his company’s prospects inside the country.

Total positioned itself to develop a portion of the globe’s largest natural gas field after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal lifted punishing sanctions on the Iranian economy. However, the company is actually right now preparing to abandon the Persian Gulf project unless the U.S. government issues the company a sanctions waiver.

which could protect Total via so-called secondary sanctions, which the United States can use to punish foreign companies which engage in prohibited activity with Iran. Washington gave firms 0 to 180 days to wind down their business inside the country after President Donald Trumpwithdrew the United States via the nuclear deal last month.

“There’s not one particular international company like Total who can work in any country with secondary sanctions. I don’t develop the right. which’s just the reality of the globe,” Pouyanne told CNBC at an OPEC seminar in Vienna.

Pouyanne acknowledged which his position probably does not sit well with Europe’s leaders. The European Union has attempted to salvage the nuclear deal by passing measures aimed at protecting the bloc’s firms which have business dealings in Iran.

although Pouyanne told CNBC he must be pragmatic along with face reality.

“The reality is actually which the capital of the globe today is actually inside the hands of the U.S.,” he said. “is actually which right which in This specific world the U.S. [is actually] using which … to impose some rules for additional countries? which’s a debate.”

Secondary sanctions are particularly perilous for multinationals like Total. Engaging in sanctioned activity with Iran could prompt the American government to cut Total off via the massive U.S. financial system along with force the firm to wind down its operations inside the States.

“The U.S. could decide which I could not have access to any U.S. financing,” Pouyanne said. “which’s impossible, let me be clear, to run an international company like Total without having access to U.S. financing or to U.S. shareholding.”

Total says U.S. banks are involved in about 0 percent of the company’s financing operations, while American investors account for more than 30 percent of its shareholding. The company has more than $10 billion deployed in U.S. operations.

By comparison, Total spent less than 40 million euros, or roughly $46 million, on its project developing the massive South Pars natural gas field in Iranian waters.

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