Total Nears Halfway Mark on Asset-Sale Plan, Finance Chief Says

Total SA is working on asset sales that could bring Europe’s third-biggest oil company halfway to a $20 billion divestment target.

“We are currently working on several disposals and I hope we will have some good news on some large asset sales by year-end or the beginning of 2013,” Chief Financial Officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said today on a conference call. “We are well on track on our divestment program.”

The oil company follows BP Plc and others in stepping up sales to bolster the balance sheet while shifting the focus of investment. Paris-based Total can spend the cash raised on more lucrative projects and drilling for new fields as the producer aims to pump 3 million barrels a day of oil and gas in 2017.

The company plans to complete $15 billion to $20 billion of sales from 2012 to 2014. Most will come from the exploration and production division, Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said last month, declining to name specific assets.

“If we include the asset sales that are in progress, we have more than 50 percent of the target under way,” de la Chevardiere said today.

Total is searching for a buyer of its French gas network, known as TIGF, a process that will take “several” months, he said. The explorer has hired two banks and set a deadline of mid-November for indications of interest.

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