UPDATE 1-Total makes significant oil discovery in Gulf of Mexico

Wed Dec 5, 2012 12:36pm GMT

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* Significant oil discovery in Gulf of Mexico

* Potential of several hundred million barrels of oil

* Further tests needed to confirm size of prospect

PARIS, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Total has made a significant oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico with a potential of several hundred million barrels of oil, the French oil major said on Wednesday.

Total and its partner Cobalt International Energy made the discovery at the North Platte offshore prospect, t he first well drilled by the two companies as part of their alliance.

Further tests will be needed to confirm the size and commercial potential of the site, Total said.

"The North Platte discovery represents another example of Total's bold exploration strategy targeting large exploration opportunities," Marc Blaizot, Total's senior vice president for exploration, said in a statement.

Over the past two years, Total has started buying and s elling assets more actively, merging its refining and chemical units and hiking its exploration budget to drill wells in riskier, but potentially higher-yielding areas to add reserves.

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