* Delays in projects could lower $18 bln investment plan
* Total not considering any large acquisitions
(Updates with quotes, details)
PARIS, April 2 (Reuters) - Delays in projects may dent Total’s (TOTF.PA) plan to invest $18 billion in 2009, the group’s chief executive said on Thursday, adding the company was not considering any large acquisition.
“We might not reach $18 billion in investments this year,” Christophe de Margerie told reporters on the sidelines of an oil conference.
“We are committed to invest, but we are not alone as we invest with partners ... but clearly there are delays in start ups and investment decisions,” he said, adding the delays were not caused by the French oil major.
He did not say which specific projects were delayed.
Many oil companies are delaying big projects to preserve cash, after oil prices collapse from more than $147/barrel in July, and in the expectation a drop in industry costs will allow them to build projects more cheaply in the future.
“Our decision is to not to delay and maintain our investments,” he said, adding the company had enough cash flow to stick to its commitments.
Oil prices at $45 to $50 a barrel in the long term would not justify the present level of investment, he said.
“But we continue to invest with a long-term view,” he said.
It was key to invest today to prevent prices from soaring again when the crisis ended, he said.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said the trend of slashed capital investment in the industry risked increasing the cyclicality of oil prices.
De Margerie, who declined to comment on the group’s bid for the Canadian UTS Energy UTS.TO, said: “We are not is a rush to make acquisitions which does not mean we will not do any ... but there are no projects today.”
“When we carry out operations like the UTS one, it’s a targeted operation. Total is not considering any large acquisition,” he said. (Reporting by Muriel Boselli, Benjamin Mallet and Tom Bergin; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)