The advent of new technology has allowed Big Oil to take a "gone, but not forgotten" approach to developing its assets, and France's Total (NYSE: TOT ) is no exception. Regions that were once considered mature are now the focus of renewed exploration and production efforts. Below we visit three of the regions where Total is reinvesting itself.
Production has slowly been declining in Total's Norway properties. In an effort to reverse that, the company is investing $4.2 billion in the Hild field, a region with an estimated 190 million barrels of oil equivalent in reserve. Total has a 51% stake in the play; Norwegian companies Petoro and Statoil (NYSE: STO ) are the other owners at 30% and 19%, respectively.
Hild is expected to start producing by the end of 2016 and should reach a peak of 100,000 barrels a day.
Production in Nigeria, meanwhile, is set to eclipse Norwegian production at some point this year. Total has been in the country for 50 years, but a recent emphasis on offshore production has really increased the relevance of its Nigerian assets. Production from the country is now more than 300,000 barrels a day and climbing.
One of Total's current projects is ramping up production in the Ofon field online. The field is 40 miles offshore Nigeria and the company is drilling at a depth of 130 feet. Right now the field produces 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, but that number will climb to 90,000 BOE/d once phase 2 construction is complete, sometime in 2014. Phase 2 will produce mostly natural gas, as the company aims to reduce emission and reduce flaring the commodity as it is produced with oil at Total's wells.
Operating in Nigeria isn't easy, as oil giant peers Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A ) and Eni (NYSE: E ) know all too well. Shell has a terrible reputation in the region, and an Eni pipeline was attacked this past October. It will serve shareholders well in the long run to keep a close eye on Total's operations there.
Total is focusing its operations in Colombia on exploring high-potential offshore assets. The company divested its stake in the Cusiana. Total sold its 7,000 BOE/d share of production to China's Sinochem. This deal combines with Total's previous sales of small percentage stakes in its Ocensa pipeline to total about $1 billion.
Total's Colombia operations now revolve around exploration in its Niscota and Mundo Nuevo blocks, where it holds 50% and 55% stakes, respectively.
The role of new technology in developing new plays is made possible largely thanks to high oil prices. The new methods can be expensive, but are not cost-prohibitive as long as prices remain high. Total benefits from this, but it is not the only company to do so. Click here to check out three more companies Fool analysts predict will benefit from the high price of oil.