Shell, Repsol seek way out of Iran gas deal

Shell, Repsol seek way out of Iran gas deal

European oil groups Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol YPF are under pressure from the United States to end talks with Iran about a multi-billion dollar natural gas deal, the Expansion newspaper reported Saturday.

It said that Russia’s Gazprom, Indian Oil Corporation and Chinese groups could be waiting to move in if British-Dutch group Shell and Spain’s Repsol pulled out.

The European firms are in talks with Iran over running part of the South Pars (bloc 14) field natural gas operation.

The Spanish business daily said Shell and Repsol have until the end of May to tell Iran whether they are ready to take part in the 10 billion dollar (6.48 billion euro) project.

But they could face sanctions from the United States, which has already imposed sanctions on Iran, and the two European firms now want to walk away from the deal, said Expansion, which did not quote sources.

The US government told Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol, which both have major interests in the United States, in January 2007 that their project in Iran would probably infringe US law.

Shell and Repsol may sell their 50 percent interest in bloc 14. The rest of the shares are held by Iran’s state oil company NIOC. But they want to make sure that they can keep their interest in blocs 23 and 24, hoping that these can be developed when Iranian-US tensions have eased.


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