Friday, August 17, 2007

Vietnam allows Total to join oil exploration

French oil firm Total has secured a Vietnamese government approval to join a venture with state oil Petrovietnam and South Korea's SK Energy for exploration off Vietnam, the government said.

In February, Petrovietnam gave SK Energy a 25-percent interest in block 15-1/05 off the country's southern coast.

The government said in a statement on Thursday that it had approved a Petrovietnam proposal for Total participation in the venture.

It did not say how much of the block's remaining 75 percent stake would be given to Total's exploration arm Total E&P.

Oil experts said the 3,800-square kilometre block 15-1/05 in the Cuu Long Basin is highly prospective as it is located very close to Vietnam's second-largest field, the Su Tu Den (Black Lion), which produces about 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Su Tu Den's crude output is about one-fifth of Vietnam's total, which last month rose 11.8 percent from June to 315,900 barrels per day (bpd), the government has said.