Total steers a new course in hunt for oil

The head of exploration at the French oil major Total says the days of hunting for huge hydrocarbon deposits have not ended for the company, despite the fall in crude prices, but he admits its approach has had to change.

“Big exploration days are not over, but we needed to readjust our targets and we’re doing this review as we speak,” says Arnaud Breulliac, Total’s president of exploration and production.

Total in January became the first oil company selected for a 40-year onshore concession in Abu Dhabi with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), via its onshore entity called the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations (Adco) in which Total is a 10 per cent shareholder, followed by Japan’s Inpex and, this month, GS Energy of Korea. Total’s stake in the previous concession was 9.5 per cent.

Mr Breulliac says he welcomes the arrival of Asian players in the emirate’s oil and gas sector as Adco weighs other companies’ offers for remaining concessions.

“We think it’s normal for Japan’s Inpex to join Adco because of supply demand,” he says. “We see the Koreans have joined and I am sure their contributions are very valuable, trustful and reliable. We know that there are discussions [with the Chinese].

“Adnoc has said that they’re in no hurry to award the rest, and I’m sure they will choose the next partners very wisely,” Mr Breulliac adds.

The 40-year, US$676 million GS Energy deal is the latest move by an import-dependent Asian country to secure energy supplies.

According to GS Energy, the stake will be South Korea’s single biggest oil asset, providing about 800 million barrels over the contract period from the oilfields, which produce 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) and have a target of 1.8 million bpd from 2017.

“The fact that we were chosen as the first partner, for us it’s a very good achievement,” Mr Breulliac says.

“This is a country where we have just entered as a historic partner – which has been respected – and we’re opening a new page of 40 years.”

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