* Total's Russian output to almost double from 2013 to 2020
* Executive says Kashagan may weigh on production targets
* Total sees no threats from Russian partners
By Michel Rose
PARIS, April 23 France's Total expects
the biggest share of its oil and gas output to come from Russia
by 2020 and plans to stay there for the long haul despite recent
tensions with the West over Ukraine, a top executive said.
Total executives said they expected its production in Russia
to soar to 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) by
around 2020, almost doubling from 207,000 boe/d last year,
thanks to its partnership with Russia's Novatek and
their giant Yamal LNG project in Siberia.
Its Russian operations would therefore overtake those in
Norway and Nigeria, which have been vying for the top position
in its production portfolio in the past few years but have
struggled to keep output rising at mature oilfields.
"Russia is a country that has large resources, oil and gas,
conventional and non conventional. We have good partnerships,"
Michael Borrell, Total's exploration and production chief for
continental Europe and Central Asia, told reporters on the
sidelines of an oil conference on Wednesday.
"Of course we look at the risk associated with what we're
doing, but long term we're in the right position," he said.
Total made a final investment decision last December on the
$27 billion Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which is
slated to start production in 2016 and ship 16.5 million tonnes
in 2018. It holds 20 percent in the joint venture.
The project, operated by Novatek, fits well with Moscow's
more aggressive push to sell oil eastward, since the United
States and European Union have imposed trade sanctions as a
result of the Ukraine crisis and Russia's annexation of Crimea
Instead of sending gas by pipeline to long-standing EU
customers, Russia aims to ship LNG from the Yamal peninsula by
sea largely to Asian buyers such as China, which has avoided
confrontation with Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
For Total, healthy production prospects in Russia are
welcome while delays and cost overruns at the giant Kashagan
field further south in Kazakhstan have made its production
targets of 2.6 million boe/d in 2015 and 3 million in 2017 look
Borrell was asked if the failure to produce at Kashagan, in
which Total holds a 16.9 percent stake, could push the company
to revise its production targets.
"If it was in our previous numbers, then yes, there may be a
revision," he said, although he later affirmed the group's 3
million boe/d objective.
Total's head of exploration and production, Yves-Louis
Darricarrere, said on Tuesday he did not expect any production
this year from the Kazakh oilfield, which was brought to a halt
because of pipeline leaks, and probably little in 2015.
Total's interests in Russia also include the Kharyaga
oilfield, north of the Arctic Circle in the Timan-Pechora Basin,
and the rights to explore three hard-to-recover shale oil blocks
in the Bazhenov fields in West Siberia with Lukoil.
"It's very early days for Bazhenov. I see it very much as an
exploration play; I wouldn't put any figures on that, but even
without any figures, the Russian subsidiary will be the largest
producer in the Total group in about 2020," Borrell said.
Total will join majors ExxonMobil, Statoil
and Royal Dutch Shell in developing Russian shale oil,
a major part of Moscow's efforts to at least maintain its oil
output at more than 10 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the
possible shale oil resources in Russia at 75 billion barrels,
more than the 58 billion held by the United States, current
leader in shale oil production.
Asked whether Total's operations in Russia could be at risk
in the current political upheaval in the region, Borrell said,
"The long-term nature of our relationships with our clients in
Russia is built on a common understanding of what each brings,
and I feel no threat whatsoever from our Russian partners."
(Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Jane Baird)