Total SA, Europe’s third-biggest oil
company, agreed to buy a stake in InterOil Corp.’s assets in Papua New Guinea
in a deal valued at as much asUS $3.6 billion as part of a plan to build a
liquefied natural gas project.
Paris-based Total will acquire 61.3 percent of a license
that includes the Elk and Antelope gas fields in Papua New Guinea and get the
right to invest in further exploration blocks, InterOil said last Friday in a
statement. The deal is valued at US$1.5 billion to US$3.6 billion, depending on the
size of the gas resources in the region, according to the statement.
InterOil has been searching for an international partner to
help fund a Papua New Guinea natural gas project since 2009 and said in May
that it had started discussions with Exxon Mobil Corp. to develop the fields.
Exxon is building a US$19 billion LNG project in Papua New Guinea scheduled to
start in 2014 to meet rising Asian demand for the commodity.
Total will operate the proposed LNG project, which will
depend on the gas resources being certified and engineering and design work,
according to the statement. InterOil said it will keep a 30 percent stake in
the LNG development.
Payments to InterOil include US$613 million on the completion
of the transaction, expected in the first quarter of 2014, and US$112 million
after a final investment decision for a new LNG plant, InterOil said. Total
will pay a further US$100 million after the first LNG cargo, according to the
statement. Variable payments will depend on the size of resources, it said.