Total Reports ‘Encouraging’ Drilling Results in Kurdistan

Total SA drilled successfully in Kurdistan as part of a plan by Europe’s third-largest oil company to explore more aggressively to boost production.

“We have several exciting prospects,” Chief Financial Officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said today on a conference call. Total is also drilling exploration wells in Gabon, Indonesia, Argentina and the Gulf of Mexico and is also preparing more in Brazil and Angola, he said.

Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie has pledged to boost production, targeting average annual growth of 3 percent from 2011 to 2015 even after losing volumes the past two years. The French company has promised to take more risks, with plans for more than 60 wells this year.

A well drilled in the Harir block in Kurdistan is “showing encouraging results” and is being tested while another at Tazir has also shown “good results,” de la Chevardiere said. The “very active” Kurdistan exploration program will include four more wells.

Total has 35 percent stakes in the Harir and Safen blocks that it bought from Marathon Oil Corp. It also holds a 20 percent interest in the Taza license held by Oil Search Ltd.

Iraq’s Kurds will start exporting crude by pipeline “very soon” after the completion of a new link to the Turkish border by the end of September, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s natural resources minister said in London last month.

The landlocked, self-governed Kurdish enclave halted crude exports through the Iraqi central government-run pipeline since December. The Kurds are sparring with the Oil Ministry in Baghdad over the sharing of revenue from crude sales and payments owed to international companies.

Total announced in January 2011 a “bolder” approach to exploration by seeking oil and natural gas reserves in a wider and riskier range of geographic zones and geologies.

“We haven’t yet found the giant field we are looking for,” de la Chevardiere said. He cited discoveries in Argentina, Australia, Kurdistan, Ivory Coast and the U.K. as successes to date.