MOSCOW, April 3 French oil major Total
has secured the rights to explore three hard-to-recover oil
blocks in West Siberia, according to a statement on the website
of the Russian region's governor.
Total will join other majors, ExxonMobil, Statoil
and Royal Dutch Shell, to develop Russian
shale oil, a key driver in Moscow's efforts to at least maintain
its oil output at more than 10 million barrels per day.
A spokeswoman for Total in Moscow declined immediate
Total has long eyed Russian shale oil, the world's largest
by estimated resources. The U.S. Energy Information
Administration puts the possible resources at 75 billion
barrels, more than the 58 billion barrels held by the United
States, current leader in shale oil production.
Interfax news agency, citing a local subsoil watchdog, said
that a subsidiary of Total had received the licenses for the
Vostochno-Kovensky, Tashinsky and Lyaminsky-3 blocks in
Khanty-Manssiisk district, Russia's main oil producing region.
Total has also signed a memorandum to develop shale oil in
Russia with Russia's No.2 oil producer Lukoil.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Elizabeth Piper)