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Total CEO is content with one US refinery

08 Jun 2011

French oil major Total will not acquire or build any additional US refineries, its chief executive said, preferring to look instead to markets were gasoline demand is expected to grow.

Christophe de Margerie said in an interview that the company was content with its single US refinery – the 232,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur facility in Texas, which completed an extensive modernisation earlier this year.
De Margerie said Total has no interest in adding another refinery in the US.

“No chance,” he said. “If we have to develop new refineries, (they) have to be developed in countries were there is access to growth ... the Middle East, or China or maybe India.”

Total, France’s largest company, is looking for 2 per cent annual growth through 2015, with some of that coming from its investments in Canada’s oil sands, the largest crude reserves outside the Middle East.

The company has rapidly expanded its holdings in the region through partnerships and acquisitions, including a C$1.75 billion ($1.8 billion) oil sands mining and upgrading joint-venture with Suncor Energy announced last December. But de Margerie says Total is content with its Canadian holdings as it looks to develop its assets in order to reach a production goal of 200,000 bpd. Further moves in Canada are unlikely.

The company, which signed a $2.25 billion deal last year with Chesapeake Energy to buy into the Barnett shales of Texas, and earlier this month agreed to assess the potential of Polish shale gas with ExxonMobil, has no taste for similar partnerships in Canada, de Margerie said.   “I don’t think this is the right time, personally,” he said.

He added that moves by Western Canadian shale gas producers to export liquefied natural gas would require them to accept being locked in to long-term contracts, a change of pace for companies more used to shorter-term deals. “Are the Canadian (natural gas) sellers ready to accept ... long term commitments?” he asked. “That is something which is not part of the Canadian culture.”