Total going strong in Qatar, eyeing Iran expansion

Global CEO says Total-QP Al Khalij oilfield maintaining highoupt since last three years

Total global CEO Patrick Pouyanné.
Total global CEO Patrick Pouyanné.

Total is working with Qatar Petroleum to ‘find innovative and cost-efficient solutions to optimise production and oil recovery and ensure that the Al Khalij field is resilient to low crude price environment’, global CEO Patrick Pouyanné has said in an interview.

In February 2014, Total and Qatar Petroleum (QP) had set up a new joint venture to further develop the Al Khalij oilfield over the next 25 years. Total has been present in Qatar since 1936, Pouyanné pointed out.

“Operationally speaking, the results of the Al Khalij field are good. Production has been maintained over the last three years, which is a performance for a field of that complexity and maturity,” Pouyanné told Gulf Times.

Asked about reports that Total was looking to work in Iran, Pouyanné said, “We will see. We had a long history in Iran, but not as long as in Qatar. First, the sanctions need to be lifted … and they haven’t to this day. Then we will look carefully if opportunities are of interest, in particular from a contractual and economical point of view.”

On Total’s relationship with QP and other international oil companies (IOCs) in the country, Pouyanné said, “We have a very good working relationship with QP at all levels because we share the same values and goals, safety, operating excellence and cost efficiency among others. We are partners in Qatar in the Al Khalij field, in Qatargas I and II, and in the refining and petrochemicals business.”

The two oil and gas majors have also partnered in lucrative operations in other countries. “This is an opportunity for QP to have access to different types of operations, and for us to share our knowledge. Qatar Petroleum holds a 15% share in Total Congo. We look forward to extending this international co-operation to other countries. Total also entertains good relationships with other IOCs in Qatar, but obviously in a different manner: we are competitors and partners,” Pouyanné revealed.

“Next year, we will celebrate the 80th anniversary of our uninterrupted presence in the country, which is unrivalled in the industry. We are present in Qatar throughout the oil and gas value chain from upstream to downstream, which is also unique,” he commented.

Asked whether the current economic downturn in the oil and gas industry, caused by low crude oil prices, would result in staff redundancy in Total’s global and Qatar operations, Pouyanné said, “At Total, we have had a slightly different approach from that of most of our peers. If you make many people redundant when you are going through a rough patch, you basically lose people that you have invested in.”

“In 2015, we implemented a hiring freeze across the company, but we have not used redundancies. But we are also checking if our organisations in Qatar, like everywhere, are as efficient as they should be, and this could lead to some organisational adjustments in 2016,” he explained.

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Oil & Gas Middle East - September 2020

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