The development of new oil reserves and a more aggressive exploration strategy will enable French oil group Total to meet its targets for boosting production of oil and gas, chief executive Christophe de Margerie said on Friday.
Speaking to a general meeting of shareholders, he said that Total was developing new reserves with capacity of 800,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in extra output.
This would help the group achieve the target for hydrocarbon production of 3.0 million barrels per day by 2017, compared with 2.3 million barrels in 2012, and to increase production by 3.0 percent on average from 2011-2015.
Margerie told a general meeting of shareholders: All this gives us visibility in terms of production. The three million barrels per day are now off the starting blocks. There is no reason for not achieving this."
However he said that as happened last year when an accident occurred in the form of a big gas leak on the North Sea Elgin platform, incidents could arise but they should not obstruct the intention to increase output and investments.
Margerie, referring to a sudden probe by European Union officials at several companies in the oil sector on Tuesday on suspicion of manipulating prices, said that Total was not involved.
He was "very surprised" that manipulation could have been carried out, given his knowledge of the ethical code of conduct in companies mentioned.
He said that the group was accelerating its exploration strategy, a critical issue for oil companies since it determines long-term growth of reserves of oil and gas, and therefore future production.
"It is clear that in terms of exploration, we have decided to move into a higher gear, to take on more (exploration) permits and to be more audacious."
This had resulted in four discoveries last year, he said.
"We have acquired a large number of blocs recently," he said, including about ten this week in Brazil. Total has strong faith in that region, where it had been absent until now.
This was a reference to a huge tender process for exploration in Brazil, mostly off-shore, which was highly successful.
Total was also making great efforts to raise its competitive position in the refining-chemical sector, notably in France where last year it had invested 1.0 billion euros to modernise facilities and adapt to demand. This was a reference to reducing the overall production of fuels but increasing further the production of diesel.