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French group’s executive appointed to get Kashagan oil flowing by 2012

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By Carola Hoyos in London

Published: November 6 2008 02:00 | Last updated: November 6 2008 02:00

Coaxing the first oil to flow from Kazakhstan’s giant Kashagan field by 2012 will be a challenge, says a senior executive of French oil group Total, writes Carola Hoyos in London .

A recent settlement decided that Total will provide the first managing director of the newly established North Caspian Operating Company. The decision ended more than a year of dispute between the project’s international oil company partners – most notably ExxonMobil of the US, and Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni of Europe – and the Kazakh government.

Arnaud Breuillac, Total’s regional head of exploration and production, called the target “quite aggressive” but not impossible.

Production at Kashagan, which was originally expected to begin in 2005, has been repeatedly delayed.

He said the decision of how to split the work among the partners when the project moved from its experimental phase to development had been a pragmatic one. The most cost-sensitive task of drilling was given to ExxonMobil, which is known for its tight fiscal controls. Royal Dutch Shell, one of the partners with most personnel, has been given the bulk of the offshore work.

Mr Breuillac likened Total’s new role to a combination of “boss, diplomat and referee”, and said that the company would take on the role of “interface with the government and authorities”.

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