Total bows out of Rub al-Khali Saudi gas project

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Feb. 8 -- Total SA has confirmed its decision to withdraw from the South Rub al-Khali gas exploration project in the southern part of Saudi Arabia's "Empty Quarter." It will transfer to Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other partners in the venture, its 30% share after three dry wells. The decision was made following an assessment of the economic potential of the field.

The agreements had anticipated the possibility for the venture to stop after three dry wells or for any partner to assign its share to the remaining partners. Saudi Arabia approved the share transfer in late January.

The Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) project was the first in which Western oil majors were allowed to be associated in an upstream project in Saudi Arabia and, significantly, it was a nonassociated gas project (OGJ, Sept. 11, 2006, Newsletter).

Total says its withdrawal will not affect its upstream projects or the Jubail refinery project.

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