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Total CEO Says Kazakhstan’s Kashagan to Start Output Imminently

Total SA expects Kashagan, a Caspian Sea oilfield in Kazakhstan waters, will start output imminently, according to Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie.

“We are very close,” de Margerie said in an interview today at an employers’ group meeting. “We had hoped it would happen already but we had a few little last-minute problems.”

Kashagan, slated to produce as much as 370,000 barrels of oil a day, was due to start output by June, about eight years later than first planned and with costs nearing $46 billion, almost double early estimates. Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni SpA, Inpex Corp. and KazMunaiGaz also own stakes. Total is counting on the field to help meet production targets.

The high-pressure reservoir with lethal levels of hydrogen sulfide 70 kilometers (44 miles) from shore, is one of the world’s biggest finds of the past four decades. Total is also counting on fields in Angola, China and Gabon to boost output this year, Yves-Louis Darricarrere, head of exploration and production at the company, said in April.

“We are optimistic now” about the startup of Kashagan, de Margerie said outside Paris. “It’s happening imminently.”

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