Total’s $20 Billion 2012 Investment Aided By Oil Price, CEO Says

Total SA’s plan to invest $20 billion this year and more in 2013 will be aided by oil prices at about $100 a barrel, said Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie.

The current price of oil is “good for long-term investment, for long-term vision of what we need to develop,” the executive told reporters today at a conference in Aix-en-Provence, France.

In February, the Paris-based company said its net investment this year will be down from $22 billion in 2011. It also said it will increase funds set aside for “ambitious” exploration by 20 percent. Total’s plan to stick with its investment project comes even as the company faces taxes at home on its oil stocks.

French President Francois Hollande last week unveiled new taxes, including one on oil stocks, seeking to meet his pledge to narrow the country’s budget gap. The new tax on oil stocks will cost Total about 150 million euros ($185 million), de Margerie said.

The tax won’t help refineries that are already losing money, he said.

“It’s hurting the (refining) industry which is already weak” and “already losing money,” he said. “If you charge it again, it will not help.”

The 550 million euros the French government expects to collect from the tax will affect not only Total but other companies such as Ineos, Lyondell, independent distributors and large retailers, he said.

Separately, he said Total’s talks on the Stockman project in Russia are “well advanced,” he said.

“I’m waiting a feedback from Gazprom,” he said, adding that Total is still seeking a 25 percent piece of the project.

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