Last week, French oil company Total S.A. (NYSE:TOT) bought a 50% stake in a project developing the huge offshore South Pars natural gas field.
In this clip from Industry Focus: Energy, Motley Fool analysts Sean O'Reilly and Taylor Muckerman explain how Total is funding this project, and why it's such a smart move for the company.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Nov. 10, 2016.
Sean O'Reilly: I wanted to touch very briefly on the news that French oil giant Total is now one of the first Western businesses and/or oil companies to invest in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Where is Crowe? We need Tyler Crowe when we're talking about Total.
Taylor Muckerman: We do, we need Tyler Crowe. Why is it a Western company? It's based in the Eastern hemisphere, isn't it?
O'Reilly: No, Europe and North America are considered the Western hemisphere.
Muckerman: OK. It is?
O'Reilly: You didn't pay attention in geography class?
Muckerman: Dude, Iran... eh, whatever.
O'Reilly: Geography. No, Europe is Western.
Muckerman: Yeah. OK. Got it.
O'Reilly: You're just giving me this look, like...
O'Reilly: So, I was actually very surprised. You would think -- in fact, all the articles I read, they were talking about how everybody thought they would wait to make a final decision on this deal until after the U.S. election, because Mr. Trump has not been super-keen on the lifted sanctions.
Muckerman: This is true; he's not the biggest fan.
O'Reilly: French oil company Total says they will avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran by using its own euro-denominated cash to finance the deal. Long story short, they have agreed to develop -- gosh, I'm actually surprised that it's this many phases -- the 11th phase of the giant offshore gas South Pars field over the next 20 years. Total is going to take a 50% stake, China National Petroleum Corp is taking 30%, and then the Iranian government is going to take the other 20%. Iran, of course, is doing this for the technology and expertise required to develop this puppy. Where is Crowe? We should have called him. I dropped the ball, here. What did you think about this, when you saw this?
Muckerman: It's pretty interesting. You knew it was going to happen sooner or later. Not only are they working with the Iranians, but also the Chinese.
O'Reilly: Everybody's in!
Muckerman: That's really going to anger Donald Trump. I think it's a pretty smart move. They have the ability to use non-dollar-denominated cash.
O'Reilly: It's also interesting that they're actually going to be paid for this investment in gas. They're not being sent money. That's interesting. [laughs]
Muckerman: That is interesting. I don't remember a deal where I've seen that.
O'Reilly: "I want you to pay me in natural gas." [laughs]
Muckerman: I guess they're betting on the fact that prices will stay -- well, at least in the near term, they might as well just take the gas and sell it on their own, or turn it into feedstock. Something, I don't know. But, tons of potential there, especially because a lot of these resources have been untapped for the last several years, so it's a market that they really didn't have to go out and discover anything. But I'm sure discussions took quite a while to arrive at this final destination.
O'Reilly: They said it was the 11th phase. That implies...
Muckerman: Yeah, the field has been producing. But now you bring in a global integrated company, a company that has been talking more and more about renewables, but now they're diving back headfirst into natural gas.