London (Platts)--14 Feb2013
While Total sees much potential for unconventional oil and gas, the company also expects to open up new producing areas with conventional resources.
One example is the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan where Total and China's state-owned CNPC farmed into a giant, undrilled exploration block held by Canada-based explorer Tethys Petroleum.
Total and CNPC farmed into two-thirds of Tethys' prospective Bokhtar area Production Sharing Contract covering 35,000 sq km in the Afghan-Tajik portion of the prolific Amu Darya basin.
The Amu Darya basin is home to some of the world's biggest gas and gas condensate fields in neighboring Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which Tethys believes extend into southwest Tajikistan.
"There is plenty of gas in the region -- in Turkmenistan -- which is probably the same field by the way," de Margerie said.
"The opportunity came from one company to share the field, which is too big for them," he said.
De Margerie said the farm-in was dependent on having a Chinese partner also join the project.
"We said there was no deal unless we bring the Chinese in," he said, adding: "They are the market next door."
He said the plan was to build a new pipeline from Tajikistan to pump gas directly to China without having to use the rest of the Central Asian gas network.
Tajikistan shares a border with China so a pipeline could link the countries without needing infrastructure in any other country in the region.
"The project is at an early stage but the intention is to have access to the Chinese market," de Margerie said.
"We are also in talks on supplying gas to Kazakhstan and being part of the grid in the region," he said.
Tethys signed a 25 year PSC with the Tajik government for the Bokhtar block in 2008.
The area included in the PSC is in the southwestern part of Tajikistan and is a large, highly prospective region which has existing oil and gas discoveries but which has seen limited exploration to date.
"It has huge reserves," de Margerie said.
An independent report from June last year estimated gross unrisked mean recoverable resources at 27.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, consisting of 114 Tcf of gas and 8.5 billion barrels of oil.