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US$10 billion needed to develop Congo oil project

A Total oil rig
at work
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 25 July 2011 – French oil major Total SA estimates that an investment of US$10 billion will be required in order to develop the Moho Bilondo Nord offshore oil project in the Congo Republic.

“The Moho Bilondo Nord project is the future of petroleum exploration in Congo around 2015 to 2017,” Congolese state media quoted Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie as saying after a meeting with President Denis Sassou N’Guesso.

“A team is currently working to define the project, which will need an investment of US$10 billion. There are still lots of hydrocarbons in this country “’ we are a long way off reaching all that there is to develop,” he added.

Asked to confirm the comments, which were published at the weekend by Congo’s state broadcaster and on a presidency website, a Total spokesman in Paris declined to comment.

Total said last year that the Moho Bilondo Nord field contained about 300 million barrels of oil, and that a decision on development could be taken by the middle of 2011.

It is part of the overall Moho Bilondo development. Capital expenditure and profits are split three ways — Total, the operator with a 53.5% interest; U.S.-based Chevron, 31.5%; and the Congolese national oil company, SNPC, 15%.

A dozen Western oil companies operate in Congo, where oil accounts for around 70% of proceeds to the state.

Total by itself accounts for 60% of Congolese crude production, with output this year due to hit 127 million barrels, up from 114.5 million in 2010.