Total plans biggest exploration drive in 2019

16507336960 4fd4a1e8f6 zFrench major Total has said that 2019 will mark its biggest exploration campaign in years

The campaign is part of a turnaround plan that aims to ditch the company’s focus on risky long-shots in favour of areas known to contain commercial levels of oil or gas.

This year, the company intends to drill 23 wells in waters off Mauritania, Senegal, Namibia, South Africa, Guyana and Brazil, senior VP for exploration, Kevin McLachlan told Reuters.

Although the company did not disclose how many wells Total drilled in 2018, it nevertheless stated that the 2019 programme would be its largest in years.

The 23 wells planned represent three times the levels of 2017 and 2016 and higher than the 20 drilled in 2013, before the oil price crash, it added.

The company’s new game plan is to focus efforts on emerging and mature basins, which offer a greater chance of success in exploration. It is moving away from its higher-risk, higher-reward strategy of targeting ‘frontier’ areas that have not been commercially exploited, an approach that has yielded scant rewards and seen Total fall behind rivals.

As a result, the proportion of its exploration capital spent by the African-focused company on frontier areas has fallen to 15 per cent, down from 40 per cent five years ago.

“We were spending a lot of money in the frontier. Now we want balance,” McLachlan commented.

McLachlan has said Total’s exploration budget would remain broadly in line with 2018 when it was US$1.2bn and 2017 when it was US$1.1bn. That is still less than half the level of 2014 when the price crash forced the oil majors to cut spending.

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