Total seen unlikely to fight ExxonMobil over South Pacific gas

Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:56am EDT
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By Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Total SA (TOTF.PA: Quote) is unlikely to challenge ExxonMobil (XOM.N: Quote) in a bidding war for explorer InterOil Corp IOC.N, the French firm's partner in a gas field in Papua New Guinea, analysts said on Wednesday.ExxonMobil this week topped an offer from Oil Search which was backed by Total.

Oil Search is due to declare on Thursday whether or not it will match ExxonMobil's $2.2 billion bid.

Total said in a statement that it was analyzing ExxonMobil's competing offer.

ExxonMobil and Total both want to simplify the ownership of the Elk-Antelope gas field by taking out InterOil's 36.5 percent stake. This would clear the way for the majors to tie together their rival gas export projects, PNG LNG and Papua LNG.

Total said it was the operator of Petroleum Retention Licence 15 (PRL 15), the joint venture developing the Elk-Antelope gas field in Papua New Guinea.

It said it would remain the largest shareholder with 31.1 percent interest while InterOil and Oil Search hold 28.3 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively.

"Total considers that the initial offer by Oil Search for InterOil represented a fair value," the company said in statement.

Analysts said it made more sense for Total to let ExxonMobil take over InterOil.   Continued...

A logo is pictured at French oil and gas company Total gas station in Marseille, February 11, 2015.   REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier