China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has reportedly replaced France’s energy giant Total in Iran’s massive South Pars gas project. Total has a 50.1% stake in the gas field, CNPC holds a 30% stake and National Iranian Oil Company subsidiary PetroPars holds the remaining 19.9%.

“China’s CNPC has officially replaced Total in phase 11 of South Pars but it has not started work practically. Talks need to be held with CNPC … about when it will start operations,” ICANA news agency quoted Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh as saying on November 25.

Total signed a contract to develop phase 11 of the South Pars natural gas field in 2017 with an initial investment of $1 billion. It was the first major Western energy investment in Iran after sanctions were lifted under the 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and six world countries, including the US.

The US Administration of President Donald J. Trump has pulled out of the Iran agreement and imposed fresh sanctions but the European Union, China and Russia remain committed to the nuclear deal.

Despite EU efforts to secure companies’ interests in Iran, Total said in August it had told Iranian authorities it would withdraw from the South Pars gas project after it failed to obtain a waiver from US sanctions against Iran.