Total takes 20 pct stake in Australia gas project: companies

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French energy giant Total has paid a little over 625 million euros for a 20-percent stake in a major liquified natural gas project in Australia, two of the other companies involved announced Thursday.

Australia's Santos announced it would cede 15 percent of its shares in the project to Total for 650 million Australian dollars (470 million euros, 597 million dollars).

Malaysia's Petronas said it had sold five percent of its stake for 217 million Australian dollars (157 million euros).

This means that the Gladstone liquified natural gas project (LNG) in the Australian state of Queensland will be 45-percent owned by Santos, with Petronas holding a 35 percent stake and Total 20 percent.

The project is due to be up and running by 2014.

Santos chief executive David Knox, welcoming the French company's arrival, said in a statement: "Total brings substantial technical LNG plant and project management expertise with respect to major LNG developments."

Total's chairman Christophe de Margerie said in the same statement: "...Total is teaming up with Santos for its expertise in gas production in Australia and with state-owned Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas for its experience in marketing LNG in Asia."

Total already holds a 24-percent stake in another LNG project in northern Australia.

© 2010 AFP

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