Exclusive: Total seeks to reduce stake in giant Kashagan oilfield – sources

May 24, 2019

By Katya Golubkova, Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – France’s Total is seeking to sell part of its stake in Kazakhstan’s giant Kashagan oilfield to raise up to $4 billion, four banking sources said.

Total holds a 16.8% stake in Kashagan, one of the world’s largest oil fields with production of around 400,000 barrels per day, and is seeking to sell around one third of its stake, according to the sources.

Total’s entire stake is estimated to be worth up to $9 billion, the sources said.

Total declined to comment.

Kashagan, the world’s biggest oil find in decades and the most expensive standalone oil project, took an estimated $50 billion and 13 years to develop before starting in 2016.

The French energy company has held talks with a Chinese national oil company about a stake sale in recent months, but the sides were unable to agree on a price, according to two sources.

Total is not using any external bankers in the sale process, one of the sources said.

The sale would be a welcome cash boost for Total as it prepares to buy $8.8 billion of oil and gas assets in Africa from Occidental Petroleum should its acquisition of U.S. rival Anadarko go through.

Kashagan is operated by the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) and the other partners in the field are Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, KazMunayGas, Inpex and China National Petroleum Corp.

Kashagan, located in the Caspian sea where temperatures throughout the year can drop to below 30 Celsius and rise above 40 Celsius, is expected to produce 370,000-400,000 barrels per day early next month after undergoing maintenance.

Under Kazakh law, companies selling stakes in projects like Kashagan have to offer them to the Kazakh government first and can only sell to third parties if the government chooses not to buy.

Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Additional reporting by Bate Felix in Paris, Mariya Gordeyeva in Almaty; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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