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Will Total deal pave way for other oil majors' return to Iran?

After six years, French oil giant Total has become the first major Western energy company to return to Iran in what Tehran hopes is only the first step in the reopening of the Iranian market.
Stephane Michel, Total's head of Middle East exploration and production, speaks during a conference with Iran's Oil Minister after signing an offshore gas field agreement in Tehran, on November 8, 2016.
Iran signed a deal with France's Total to develop a major offshore gas field, its first big contract with a Western energy firm since sanctions were loosened in January.

 / AFP / ATTA KENARE        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
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TEHRAN, Iran — French energy giant Total SA is back in Iran, six years after it was forced to halt its operations due to nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran. Leading a consortium with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Petropars, the company signed a heads of agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) worth $4.8 billion to develop phase 11 of the giant South Pars natural gas field. The project is expected to produce 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The preliminary agreement, due to be finalized by early 2017, gives Total a 50.1% stake. Other consortium members CNPC and NIOC subsidiary Petropars will take 30% and 19.9%, respectively.

The gas field, which is divided into 29 development phases on the Iranian side, is the world’s largest. The combined Iranian and Qatari sections of the field contain an estimated 19% of global recoverable gas reserves. Qatar’s section is referred to as the North Dome.

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