Total Announces Major Caspian Sea Gas Find

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Total SA, Europe's third-largest oil company, said it has made what it calls a ''major'' natural gas discovery in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan. The French company said the first test results from the Absheron block show the potential for several trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas reserves.

The European Union wants to bring gas supplies from Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea basin to replace dwindling North Sea output and reduce dependence on African and Russian gas imports, according to Bloomberg News. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan's state-run oil company said it could have 25 billion to 30 billion cubic meters of gas available for export by 2020-2025.

Total (TOT) has a 40% interest in the Absheron development. Chevron (CVX), the second-largest U.S. oil company, was previously involved in the project, but scuttled its plans several years ago.

Socar, Azerbaijan's state-run oil company, estimates the field holds 300 billion cubic meters of gas, Bloomberg reported.