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France’s Total signs Oman deep-water offshore drilling deal
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DUBAI: Total has signed an exploration and production-sharing agreement for a deep-water block offshore Oman, the French company said Thursday.

Block 41, which lies off thse Omani coast northwest of the capital Muscat, covers almost 24,000 square kilometers of the seabed at depths of up to 3,000 meters.

“This acquisition is aligned with Total’s ambitious exploration strategy focused on frontier basins and new plays with strong potential,” said Arnaud Breuillac, Total’s head of exploration for the Middle East.

One of the world’s biggest oil and gas producing companies, Total is already involved in challenging deepwater projects off West Africa, in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

It plans to start exploring in the Gulf of Oman next year.

India’s Reliance Industries had previously signed agreements to develop the offshore Blocks 41 but has relinquished rights to explore either of them.

Most of Oman’s oil production is onshore. But Norwegian oil firm DNO had started pumping oil and gas from Oman’s first offshore fields, in Block 8 in the relatively shallow waters of the Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz, in 2012.

Omani oil production fell from a peak of around 960,000 barrels per day in 2001 to 715,000 bpd in 2007, according to figures from British Petroleum although improved techniques helped buoy output from mature onshore fields and raise 2012 output to 922,000 bpd.

Small non-OPEC oil producer Oman is also trying to boost its onshore gas output to meet booming domestic demand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 13, 2013, on page 5.
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