Tue, Jan 17, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Energy giant Total scouring Australia for acquisitions

AFP, SYDNEY and SEOUL

Cashed-up French energy giant Total is scouring Australia for acquisition opportunities as part of an aggressive expansion of its gas strategy, a report said yesterday.

It follows an announcement on Friday that Total will join with Japanese oil and gas producer Inpex to invest in the US$34 billion Ichthys LNG gas project off northern Australia. Inpex will take a 72.8 percent stake, while Total will hold 24 percent.

“There is no limitation for Total to invest more in Australia,” Jean-Marie Guillermou, the company’s senior vice president for exploration and production in Asia, told the Australian Financial Review. “Australia is a core asset and is part of our future. If tomorrow we have the opportunity to find another Ichthys, we have the money to invest and develop it alone.”

Guillermou said acquisitions could involve individual assets in gas, including shale gas, or takeovers, with the company expecting to spend up to US$14 billion in Australia over the next five years.

Meanwhile, South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries said yesterday it had won a 2.6 trillion won (US$2.26 billion) deal to build a gas processing plant in Australia for Inpex.

Work on the 100,000-tonne plant will begin in 2013, the shipbuilder said in a statement, adding that a full agreement with Inpex will be signed next month.

It said the structure, to be 110m both in height and width when delivered by the end of 2015, would be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest offshore plant.

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