CAPE TOWN Oct 31 French oil major Total
said it was confident of reaching an agreement soon
with South Sudanese over exploration in a disputed block and was
ready to resume work there with a new partner, a senior official
said on Wednesday.
Last month the government said it would split Total's
120,000 square km concession into three parts to speed up
exploration in South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan over a year
"We are really confident that we will have an agreement with
South Sudan government and with the introduction also of a new
partner," Jacques Marraud des Grottes, Africa President of Total
exploration and production unit told journalists.
South Sudan, which depends on oil for about 98 percent of
its revenues, is eager to start exploration in Block B due to
rapidly declining reserves in other producing fields.
Total has held the block since 1980 but halted exploration
five years later because of insecurity from Sudan's civil war,
which lasted two decades until 2005.
"We expect to resume soon. We are very close to celebrating
and we already have people over there... We are ready to start,"
Des Grottes said on the sidelines of an African oil conference.
He did not want to reveal details of who the new partners
were, although industry sources told Reuters in September that
the two operators were U.S. major Exxon Mobil and
Referring to Uganda reclaiming an exploration block jointly
Tullow Oil, CNOOC and Total SA earlier this
month, Des Grottes said it was normal procedure.
"Licenses are of a certain duration and at the end of the
licence you have no rights. We did the exploration on that
block, the license is over. It is just the normal expiry of the
license," he said.
The Ugandan Energy Ministry's Petroleum Exploration and
Production department said the Kanywataba block had reverted
back to the east African government after a six-month long
exploration license expired.