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Chinese energy giant CNPC is willing to buy French firm Total’s stake in the Iranian South Pars gas project should the latter decide to quit because of US sanctions against Tehran.

“The possibility of Total’s pullout is quite high now, and in that scenario CNPC will be ready to take it over fully,” the news agency quotes its industry source as saying. CNPC foresaw a high probability of a re-imposition of US sanctions,” another source said.

The South Pars field is the world’s biggest natural gas reserves ever found in one place. Total has a 50.1 percent stake in the project that develops phase 11 of the South Pars, while China has 30 percent with the remaining shares belonging to Iranian national oil company subsidiary PetroPars.

At the current gas prices, the entire reserves of the South Pars can be estimated at around $2.9 trillion. Iran shares the field with Qatar. Total signed a deal with Iran in July 2017 to develop phase 11 of the gas field with an initial investment of $1 billion. The French company was the first Western firm to invest into Iran’s energy sector after the 2015 nuclear deal.

In March, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the company would seek a waiver to continue the development of the gas field if the US decided to reimpose sanctions.

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