According to an announcement on ShaMaran’s website, Total has paid $48 million for the minority stake in the Taza block, which is operated by Papua New Guinea’s Oil Search, and will reimburse ShaMaran for its costs incurred developing the field from 1 April.
The news follows Total’s decision to farm in two blocks operated by Marathon Oil in the Kurdish region. The company is also an 18.75% stakeholder in the Halfaya field development contract in south Iraq.
Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein Al Sharistani recently requested that the French supermajor either sells up its minority stake in the Halfaya contract or give up its Kurdish ambitions in line with Iraq oil ministry policy, which flows from a long-running dispute over whether the Kurdish region has the authority to sign its own oil deals.
According to ShaMaran, the first exploration well is currently drilling at Taza. To date only 2-D seismic has been acquired for the block, which ShaMaran says revealed a “significant 90 square kilometer four-way dip closed structure, with structural relief of between 150 and 300m.”
The sale leaves ShaMaran with only a 26.8% interest in the Atrush block in the North west of the region, a block operated by Aspect Energy. The company had already returned its interests in the Arbat and Pulkhana blocks after disappointing results. The company's shares have tumbled over 50% over the last year.
Meanwhile Paolo Scaroni, the CEO of Italian oil firm Eni, says the company has no designs on an entry into the Kurdish region.
Referring to the company’s operatorship of the Zubair field under a 20-year technical services contracts, Scaroni told Reuters that Eni "will not be throwing into doubt those agreements," by following the likes of Total into Kurdistan.