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OIL

Total announces major gas find in Caspian

French oil giant Total said on Friday it had found a major gas field in the Caspian sea off the coast of Azerbaijan.

The field could produce billions of cubic feet of natural gas, said Total, which holds 40 percent of the joint venture along with Azerbaijan’s national oil company SOCART with 40 percent) and GDF Suez with 20 percent.  

The Absheron X-2 block is thought to have large pockets of gas spread over a 270 square kilometre (104 square mile) field, and the firm hopes to find several trillion cubic feet of gas and associated condensates.  

“This discovery could be very significant in terms of resources,” said Total’s senior vice president for exploration, Marc Blaizot.  

“It is the result of Total’s bolder exploration strategy aimed at probing high risk-high reward prospects both in prolific and frontier basins particularly in high pressure, deeply buried reservoirs.”  

Blaizot said the techniques it has developed in its Caspian work would help it find more gas in similar basins off Britain, Brunei, Malaysia and Egypt, where new permits have been recently awarded to Total.  

The Caspian well is currently at a depth of around 6,550 metres, in 500 metres of water, 100 kilometres southeast of Baku, near Total’s existing Shah Deniz gas field.  

Total has been working in Azerbaijan since 1996 and already pumps 13,000 barrels of oil per day there, while owning 10 percent of the South Caucasus Pipeline Company and five percent of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

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TOTAL

Fire erupts at France’s largest oil refinery

Firefighters brought a fire at the largest oil refinery in France under control Saturday, local officials said, hours after it started in the small hours of the morning.

Fire erupts at France's largest oil refinery
An automatic hose working to extinguish a flame at the Total oil refinery at Gonfreville-l'Orcher on Saturday. Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP
The blaze broke out at one of Total's oil refineries near the port city of Le Havre, northwestern France, at 4am said officials at the prefecture of the Seine-Maritime region.
   
By dawn, smoke was pouring out across the region reaching as far as 10 kilometres (six miles) away. About 50 firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control.
   
A smell of hot tar hung over the zone, an AFP photographer noted, and although tests for air pollution near the plant were negative, for a few hours the prefecture advised residents to stay indoors.
   
In a statement they said a pump fault appeared to have caused the fire.
   
Total confirmed in its statement that the fire appeared to have been caused at a feed pump.
   
Nobody had been injured and all those at the site, which employs around 1,500 people, had been accounted for, it added.
   
But the incident comes only a day after safety officials approved the partial reopening of a factory in the northwest city of Rouen — which suffered a fire last September — over the objections of some local officials.
   
The blaze at the plant in Rouen on September 26 sent billowing clouds of soot as far as 22 kilometres away, prompting evacuations and school closures over potential health risks.
   
Both the factory at Rouen and the refinery near Le Havre are classified high-risk on the Seveso scale measuring industrial risk.
 
 
 
Tests for air pollution near the plant were negative but the prefecture advised residents to stay indoors.
   
Total said in a statement that no one was injured and that all those at the site, which employs around 1,500 people, have been accounted for.
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