Norwegian oil and gas group StatoilHydro confirmed on Friday it will not make any new investments in Iran, following pressure from the United States to isolate the Islamic Republic over its nuclear ambitions.
StatoilHydro , the latest in a series of foreign companies to back away from Iranian investment as perceived risk to investors has grown, said it would honour existing contracts.
Chief Executive Helge Lund said the company is in dialogue with U.S. and European authorities about the status of its activities in Iran, where it is the offshore operator for development phases 6-8 on the South Pars gas field in the Gulf.
"We are familiar with laws and regulations in the United States and the European Union, and will not make any new investments in Iran in today’s situation," Lund said.
"First and foremost, StatoilHydro will see through its contractual obligations in Iran," Lund told reporters after the group reported forecast-beating second-quarter profits. "We will deliver some projects for the national oil company in Iran."
StatoilHydro had been in talks to develop and invest in the Anaran project in the Azar oil field in Iran, talks that are now halted.
France’s Total said earlier this year it would spend no more money on Iranian gas projects for now. But it reaffirmed that Iran remains a priority country for the company.
Royal Dutch Shell has also scrapped investments in Iran.
U.S. sanctions are meant to put pressure on Iran to accept international demands to halt uranium enrichment, suspected by Western powers to be aimed at making nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
StatoilHydro said the group is specifically committed to meeting its obligations for work at the South Pars gas project, which is expected to enter into operation soon.
But the group is planning to reduce its role in the project and transfer control to Iran’s national oil company NOIC. StatoilHydro said its involvement will be phased out once it recoups its own costs for the project.
Several banks, including Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Commerzbank , Dresdner Bank and UBS , Credit Suisse and London-based HSBC have also scaled down or halted activity in Iran.