Wikileaks: Total’s shale investment threatened over Iranian ties

So far most of the coverage of Wikileaks release of U.S. State Department cables has been focused on issues of security and international gossip. But it appears energy issues are part of the mix too.

Dow Jones reports that the State Department told French energy giant Total it’s U.S. shale gas investments could be affected by its business with Iran:

When the Total executive asked if U.S. sanctions legislation could penalize energy companies for selling refined petroleum to Iran, U.S. staffers responded that the measure “could possibly impact Total’s recent shale-gas investments in the U.S.”

Italian energy firm Eni SpA was also in the mix:

The tough conversations between U.S. officials and foreign businesspeople show concern abroad about passage of a U.S. law penalizing foreign energy companies doing business in Iran. Among the most concerned was Italian oil company Eni SpA (E, ENI.MI), which “insisted” on completing a contract in Iran, another cable showed.

Eni officials told U.S. congressional staffers that the company had invested $3 billion in Iran and still needed to recover about $1.4 billion from its operations there, the documents said. The Eni officials sought to demonstrate goodwill, saying that the company had already given up on plans to proceed further with an oil-field development in Iran after a meeting between Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni and officials in Washington.

One might think the State Department would lean on China to stop its business with Iran, given the recent shale investment from CNOOC. But it turns out that’s a lot to ask of China:

Separately, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan told a group of U.S. lawmakers that the emirates and Saudia Arabia had spoken to the Chinese and expressed a willingness to expand energy ties between the countries, another cable said. China imports a lot of oil from Iran, and the foreign minister “acknowledged the difficulty of supplanting an Iran-China trade relationship that reached $50 billion last year,” a cable said.

I’ve had a bit of trouble tracking down the cables referenced in the Dow Jones piece as the WikiLeaks site seems to be down (they said they were under a constant “denial of service” attack). If you’ve found the links, please forward them.