Total E&P President: 100 Mln Barrel/Day Liquids Ceiling

PARIS, April 15, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

French oil and gas major Total SA expects worldwide production of all hydrocarbon liquids to reach a ceiling of 100 million barrels a day by around 2020 or maybe earlier, the company's head of exploration and production Yves-Louis Darricarrere told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

Total's forecast -- on a day oil prices reached new record highs -- predicts even tighter long-term global oil supply than that suggested by the International Energy Agency, Paris-based energy security watchdog for industrialized nations.

"We don't really see a peak...more a kind of ceiling," Darricarrere said of Total's assessment of global output which he slates as 95 million barrels a day of conventional oil, heavy oils, condensates and natural gas liquids, with a further 5 million barrels a day coming from biofuels, gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids fuels.

In its World Energy Outlook published in November, the IEA said annual world oil demand is expected to grow by 1.8% to 116 million barrels a day in 2030, while world oil supply growth is set to grow 1.3% a year to 116.3 million barrels a day in 2030.

Total's new oil and gas supply projects include offshore and onshore areas in Africa, the Arctic, the Middle East and the Caspian Sea.

Darricarrere said the startup of the giant Kashagan oil project in the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan, is now within reach. A final agreement on Kashagan should be "completed in a few weeks" and "a new startup date issued in the near future," he said, while declining to be more exact about the timing.

Partners in the Kashagan project apart from Total are KazMunaiGas, Eni SpA, ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC ConocoPhilips and Inpex Holdings Inc.. Darricarrere recalled they signed a memorandum of understanding in January, settling a long-running dispute with the Kazakh authorities stemming from repeated delays in production start-up.

Darricarrere also said he sees the company booking "a little less than one billion barrels of oil equivalent" from the Shtokman project in Russia. Total is a partner for phase one of the Gazprom-led Arctic offshore gas project.

At Shtokman, Total has settled for rights based on its stake in the company that will operate the field.

"We tend to be pragmatic," Darricarrere said. "We are very open in our discussions with the authorities of the host countries," although he said Total does have "minimum mandatory requirements for our business model." Those are to have a role in the production process, ensure revenues are derived from sales of the hydrocarbons produced and to bear risk and stand to reap the reward, he said.

"As soon as those three criteria are fulfilled we are able to book it and Shtokman achieves that," he said.

Total sees other opportunities to exploit oil and gas reserves that have already been discovered. Darricarrere declined to be specific apart from saying the company continues to "explore avenues" in Russia, Canada, North Africa and Nigeria.

He also described the Arctic as "one of the next frontiers" for international oil companies to explore.

Total is continuing negotiations with the Iranian government aimed at tapping rich gas reserves at the country's South Pars project.

Still, getting the project up and running would require "a contractual framework which is quite sophisticated," Darricarrere said. "We are far from reaching the stage finalizing those agreements."

Beyond the difficulties coming to an agreement Total's South Pars project is also complicated by Iran's troubled relationship with the West over its nuclear program.

Darricarrere confirmed that Total also plans to take a stake in two Nigerian exploration blocks held by ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd. That deal is "in the process" of being wrapped up, he said.

Total also has "had confirmation that three new blocks will be awarded to us" in northwestern Australian offshore gas fields, in which the company is building a position, Darricarrere said.

PARIS, April 15, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

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