The French oil giant TotalFinaElf said Wednesday that it wanted to lead a consortium exploring what could be one of the largest offshore oil discoveries made in the last 30 years.
The Kashagan field in Kazakhstan's sector of the Caspian Sea "according to many opinions is the largest deposit discovered in the last 30 years," said Menno Grouvel, regional vice president of TotalFinaElf's Exploration and Production.
"Total, from a financial and economic point of view, could easily become the operator following the merger and transformation of the company into TotalFinaElf," Grouvel said after meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev.
The new group is the fourth largest oil company in the world. A single operator would enable the nine-member consortium to better focus on the project and would take the lead in its future development, Grouvel said.
Total, Shell and ExxonMobil are all said to be among the Western oil majors vying to emerge as the single operator of the OKIOC consortium, which also includes subsidiaries of ENI, BG, BP Amoco, Inpex, Phillips Petroleum, and Statoil.
Grouvel also expressed support for a pipeline project from Kazakhstan to Iran, saying it could prove to be the most economically viable option.
"All participants of the project will be happy if the pipelines go to the north, south and possibly to the west," he added.
The United States has put strong pressure on Kazakhstan to commit oil to a pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey, which would avoid both Russia in the north and Iran in the south.
The French are thought to be keen on the Iranian route, but Kazakhstan has yet to make a firm commitment.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)