Total to sell interest in Gulf of Mexico Tahiti project - sources

By Reuters

Sep 25, 2014 10:20 PM EDT

French oil company Total SA (TOTF.PA) is looking to sell its 17 percent stake in the Gulf of Mexico's Tahiti oil field, which could fetch between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in a deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) is working on the sale on behalf of Total's US oil and gas exploration and production unit Total E&P USA Inc, one of the people said.

The sources, who spoke this week, asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential. A Total representative declined to comment, while a Bank of Nova Scotia representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Total, like other big oil companies, has been under pressure from shareholders to cut costs and raise dividends as rising costs in the oil industry and weaker oil prices squeeze profitability.

It has been selling off businesses such as its adhesives division Bostik, which French chemicals group Arkema (AKE.PA) has offered to buy for 1.74 billion euros ($2.24 billion).

The company plans to sell $10 billion of assets in 2015-2017, having hit a target of $15-20 billion of sales in 2012-2014.

Wells it does not control are among the assets that Total is considering selling, according to one of the sources. San Ramon, California-based Chevron (CVX.N) is the primary operator of the Tahiti oil field, which began production in 2009.

The Tahiti field is located approximately 180 miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the Green Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico beneath 4,100 to 4,300 feet of water, according to Total's website.

Total, which has struggled with production outages in Libya, Kazakhstan and Nigeria, cut its 2017 output goal on Monday to 2.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from a previous 3 million.

Since 2010, Total has generated a total of $30 billion from asset sales, according to its Chief Financial Officer Patrick de la Chevardiere. That makes it one of the most ambitious sell-off programs in the industry alongside BP's (BP.L) $50 billion sell-off plan.

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