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Mon 1 Nov 2010 10:43 PM

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Total looks at Mideast acid gas, heavy oil plans, official said

Company is expanding their presence and focusing on heavy oil and unconventional gas projects

Total looks at Mideast acid gas, heavy oil plans, official said
EXPLORING MIDDLE EAST: The Oil company is evaluating developing natural gas with a high acid content and is in talks with Kuwait (Getty Images)

Total, Europe’s third biggest oil company, is evaluating developing natural gas with a high acid content in the Middle East and is in talks with Kuwait on pumping heavy crude, an executive said.

Today in an interview at a conference in Abu Dhabi, Yves Louis Darricarrere, head of exploration and production said: “We are expanding our presence in the Middle East.” The company has gas liquefaction projects in Yemen and Qatar, he said.

Total is focusing on heavy oil and unconventional gas projects to add output, Darricarrere said in a speech at the conference. Those resources are generally costlier and harder to produce than the traditional oil and gas developments in the Middle East.

Arabian Gulf oil producers are looking to more difficult sources for crude and seeking gas resources as demand outstrips supply in some countries.

Saudi Arabia has expanded its oil production capacity to more than 12 million barrels a day and has kept a third of that idle amid low demand. The country is meanwhile exploring hard-to-produce gas resources to meet domestic demand.

Abu Dhabi, the capital and largest sheikhdom of the UAE, is seeking to boost crude production capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day by 2018. It imports natural gas from neighboring Qatar and is building nuclear plants to meet power demand that is expected to double by 2020.

Darricarrere declined to name the country in the Arabian Gulf region where Total was evaluating the acid gas project. Total pulled out of the South Rub Al Khali gas project in Saudi Arabia and isn’t bidding for the Shah sour development in Abu Dhabi, he said.

“We didn’t find commercial quantities of gas and the gas price in Saudi Arabia is very low,” he said of the Saudi project.

Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco, partners in the exploration venture known as SRAK, said last week they would go ahead with a second exploration phase at the field.