In the early 2000s, as Iran drafted ambitious plans to exploit its huge gas potential, allocating some of the gas for the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was firmly on its agenda. In fact, three projects were outlined: Pars LNG, a joint venture between Total (50%), the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC, 40%) and Petronas (10%); Persian LNG, a joint venture between Shell (25%), Repsol (25%) and NIOC (50%); and Iran LNG, a company owned by NIOC with undetermined international partners. All three projects invested heavily in paving the way for the future production and export of LNG from Iran.
By the late 2000s, however, the international partners in the first two ventures were forced to abandon the projects given the intensification of nuclear sanctions against Iran. What remained was the third project, Iran LNG, and the frustration in Tehran that massive investments in the LNG sector had gone to waste. In fact, in light of the withdrawal of international companies and potential technology providers, Iran excluded any role for LNG in its subsequent gas sector strategy.