Chinese state oil firm withdraws from $5bn South Pars gas deal: Iran

— France’s Total pulled out of the same deal earlier

TEHRAN: China’s state oil company has pulled out of a $5 billion deal to develop a portion of Iran’s massive offshore natural gas field, the Islamic Republic’s oil minister said Sunday, an agreement from which France’s Total earlier withdrew over US sanctions.
The South Pars field deal, struck in the wake of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, appears to be just the latest business casualty of America’s pressure campaign on Tehran following President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of the US from the deal.
It also comes as China and the US engage in their own trade war, as Beijing and Washington levy billions of dollars of tariffs on each other’s goods.
Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, quoted by the ministry’s SHANA news agency, said Sunday that the China National Petroleum Corp. was “no longer in the project.” He did not elaborate or give any reason for the withdrawal.
Officials in Beijing didn’t immediately acknowledge their decision. However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif separately complained Sunday about the US campaign against Tehran and its impact on foreign investments.
“We have been facing plenty of problems in the field of investment because of the US maximum pressure policy,” Zarif told a parliamentary committee, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. “We are trying to remove the problems.”
After withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Tehran over a year ago, the US imposed sanctions on Iran that have kept it from selling its oil abroad and have crippled its economy. Iran has since begun breaking terms of the deal.
There have been a series of attacks across the Middle East that the US blames on Iran. Tensions reached their height on Sept. 14, with a missile and drone attack on the world’s largest oil processor in Saudi Arabia and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. While Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia says it was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an “all-out war.” – Agencies

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