Total Steps Up Its A-Game

Last week, French energy giant Total (NYS: TOT) announced it planned to drill offshore East Africa in search of large natural gas deposits. This move is just one of many updates coming off the continent from the company in recent weeks.

East Africa gas
Offshore Mozambique and Tanzania, there is a flurry of natural gas activity. Statoil (NYS: STO) and ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) have spudded a well 50 miles offshore Tanzania. Eni (NYS: E) and AnadarkoPetroleum (NYS: APC) are both in charge of massive deposits off the coast of Mozambique, and Shell is trying to buy in.

Total is exploring offshore Kenya and plans to drill its first exploration well there early next year. Additionally, the company has acquired several exploration blocks onshore, where it is cheaper to drill, in Kenya, Uganda, Congo, and South Sudan.

Offshore Ivory Coast
In the middle of February, Total announced it had inked a deal with the Ivory Coast's national oil company, Petroci, for three ultra-deep offshore licenses. The company has a 54% interest in one and a 45% interest in the other two fields. Anadarko is a partner on the second two licenses as well.

The licenses cover 3,200 square kilometers, and water depths range from 2,000 to 3,000 meters. Initial steps include a 3-D seismic survey and one exploration well drilled in each block over the course of three years. Drilling is set to begin at the end of this year.

Offshore Nigeria
Last month, Total announced production had started at its second deepwater field offshore Nigeria. The company's project in the Usan field is comprised of 42 wells connected to one of the largest floating production vessels in the world by a 70 kilometer subsea network. The vessel is designed to process 180,000 barrels of oil per day, with storage capacity of 2 million barrels.

Total's production in Nigeria last year was 290,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Foolish takeaway
Oil production offshore West Africa is important, but natural gas off East Africa is a game changer. An LNG export facility is in the works, and its location is perfect to get gas to China, Japan, and Korea, the world's top buyers. The gas can also be used domestically, as economies in Africa continue to grow.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Aimee Duffy owns shares of Statoil A, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. If you have the energy, check out what she's keeping an eye on by following her on Twitter, where she goes by @TMFDuffy.Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Statoil A, Total, and ExxonMobil. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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