Total cedes to Gazprom its stake in Shtockman gas project in Russian Arctic
Total said Friday it had pulled out of the Shtokman natural gas project in the Barents Sea, a project which has been frozen for two years, ceding its stake to Russian gas giant Gazprom.
"Total has passed to Gazprom its 25 percent share in Shtokman Development AG and expressed its interest to further cooperate on the project should it enter an active phase," the French energy company said, confirming a report in the Russian business daily Vedomosti.
Total has for a number of years worked with Gazprom to find a cost-effective way of exploiting the giant gas field of Shtokman in the Barents Sea.
Gazprom suspended the project in 2013 until new technology made it viable.
At 3.8 trillion cubic metres of gas, the Shtokman field is one of the world's largest untouched gas fields.
But buried underneath the Barents Sea above the arctic circle, developing it would require technology breakthroughs and huge investment.
"We are waiting for the emergence of more efficient technologies, less costly or that market conditions change," a Gazprom spokesman said in 2013.
Vedomosti said the transfer of the stake was agreed last week at Russia's annual economic forum last week in Saint Petersburg where Gazprom chief Alexei Miller met with Total's Patrick Pouyanne.
It said a Gazprom spokesman told them that Miller promised Pouyanne during the meeting that Total would be the first company approached to join the project if Gazprom decided to pursue its development.
Total has in recent years launched a drive to raise its output, in particular through operations in Russia, which should become its top production source by 2020.
© 2015 AFP