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Total Confirms Output Targets, Sees Further Growth After 2017

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SHETLAND, Scotland - French company Total SA still expects its oil and gas output to grow 3% on average on an annual basis between 2011 and 2015, and then sees accelerated growth after 2017 as new projects come on stream, the head of the exploration and production division Yves-Louis Darricarrere said, ahead of the group's release of its first-quarter earnings later this week.

By 2017, the group expects to have increased its production capacity potential to 3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, from currently around 2.3 mboe/d, Mr. Darricarrere said during a press presentation there Monday.

The group is strongly competing with peers to find more oil and gas as energy demand keeps growing in emerging markets and while most conventional hydrocarbon reservoirs around the world are believed now to be depleting. Total has engaged in a strategic change and has become more aggressive in terms of exploration, allowing it to recently make substantial discoveries, notably in risky areas also called "frontier basins," such as the rough seas of West Shetlands and the Barents Sea, at the most northern tip of Europe.

Total even sees its output growth accelerating after 2017, as "already 90% of the 2017 potential is either in production or in development," Mr. Darricarrere said.

"We're seeing the results of our revitalized exploration strategy. Accepting to take more risks and looking for larger projects are our new focuses," Mr. Darricarrere said, adding the group's potential resources has doubled in the last three years to six billion barrels of oil equivalent.

In the North Sea alone, the group plans to invest as much as $20 billion over the five coming years, he said.

The strategy has allowed Total's production decline rate to remain steady, at around 3%, he said.

"We're able to control the decline, but this is because attention has been brought to existing fields and all our projects must be on time... Any delay of a project is a destruction of growth," he added.

Total has currently 15 projects under development, four of which are located in the North Sea and the Barents Sea. Mr. Darricarrere said "these projects, for the time being, are on time" and should add around 175,000 boe/d to Total's production.

The group will release its first-quarter earnings on Friday at 0600 GMT. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires expect Total's first-quarter output to have dropped 2.1% from a year earlier to 2.323 mboe/d from 2.372 mboe/d.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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