By John Lee.
Following months of speculation, France's Total has announced the completion of an acquisition of 35% interest in two exploration blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan.
In a brief statement, the company said:
"Total ... announced the signature of a Farm-in Agreement in two exploration blocks in Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
"Total has completed an acquisition of 35% interest in two Blocks, Harir and Safen, held by Marathon Oil KDV B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE: MRO). Total will be the operator of the development of the Safen Block. The Blocks cover areas of respectively 705 and 424 square km.
"Total confirms its commitment to contribute to the development of the oil Industry in Iraq and is looking for new opportunities."
Marathon Oil gave some more details:
"Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE: MRO) announced today that its subsidiary Marathon Oil KDV B.V. has closed farmout agreements with subsidiaries of Total S.A. under which Total has acquired 35 percent working (43.75 percent paying) interests in the Harir and Safen blocks in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
"With this transaction, Marathon Oil reduces its stake to a 45 percent working (56.25 percent paying) interest in each of the two blocks while remaining operator of the Harir block and exploration operator of the Safen block. A Total subsidiary will become the operator of any development of the Safen block. The Kurdistan Regional Government continues to have a fully carried 20 percent interest in each of the blocks.
"The Harir block is approximately 174,000 gross acres (705 square kilometers) and the Safen block is approximately 105,000 gross acres (424 square kilometers). Both blocks are located northeast of Erbil.
"'We are pleased to have Total join Marathon Oil in exploring these high-impact exploration opportunities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq's world-class hydrocarbon province,' said Annell R. Bay [pictured], Marathon Oil's vice president of global exploration. 'This partnership combines the extensive exploration, drilling and completion experience of Marathon Oil and Total to fully evaluate the potential of these two blocks.'
"A 2-D seismic program on both blocks is ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of this year. The first exploration well on the Harir block began drilling July 30, 2012 and will be exploring Mesozoic fractured carbonates with main reservoir objectives in the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic formations. The first exploration well on the Safen block is planned for the first half of 2013."