By Geraldine Amiel and Inti Landauro
PARIS--The Shtokman joint venture agreement between French oil company Total SA (TOT) and Russian peer OAO Gazprom terminated on July 1 though Total is still interested in playing an active role in the gas project, the French company's chief financial officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said Friday in a conference call held to discuss the company's second quarter profits.
Last month, officials from Gazprom surprised Total saying they were considering changing its partners in the development of what is one of the world's largest natural gas fields. Gazprom officials had said the other partner, Norway's Statoil ASA (STO), was also to leave the joint venture.
Total used to hold 25% in the Shtokman joint-venture.
Gazprom has been trying to develop the Shtokman field for more than 20 years, and sealed a partnership with Total and Statoil with that purpose. The consortium has already spent millions of dollars on studies and plans for the extraction and liquefaction of natural gas there under the extreme weather conditions.
The complexity of the project due to technological challenges in such extremely cold conditions and precipitously low gas prices as well as the emergence of the U.S. as a gas exporter has called the financial viability of the plans into question.
Mr. de la Chevardiere said Gazprom was now free to decide who will be its partners in the Shtokman project.
He added that his company is currently negotiating a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice following an investigation into gas contracts with Iran. He also said Total's activities in Yemen are back at full production and the operation in the Elgin gas field in the North Sea, which was disrupted earlier this year due to a leak, will gradually reach normal levels by December.
Shares of Total were up 3.1% to 37.22 euros ($45.78) at 1347 GMT.
-Write to Inti Landauro and Geraldine Amiel at email@example.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 27, 2012 10:25 ET (14:25 GMT)
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