By Inti Landauro
PARIS-- Total SA doesn't expect the giant Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan to yield much output this year, even if it resumes production at all, after a particularly tricky-to-fix gas leak forced the French company and its partners to stop production last October at great cost.
The companies are waiting for the results of analyses and ultrasound probes on the leaking pipeline to identify the problem and find ways to fix it, Total's president for exploration and production, Arnaud Breuillac, told reporters on the sidelines of an oil conference in Paris on Friday.
"For now, we are waiting for the analyses. If there were to be any production by the end of the year, it wouldn't be much," Mr. Breuillac said. The investigations on the technical problem at Kashagan is tricky as the area is still under a layer of ice, he said.
The partners--which include Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Italy's Eni SpA and Total--are eager to resume output to recoup some of the $50 billion they have invested in Kashagan over the past 17 years.
The Kazakh government is also heavily invested in Kashagan, having based its economic forecasts on revenue from the field, whose output was expected to increase to 370,000 barrels a day from 180,000 barrels a day initially.
Mr. Breuillac said he is confident the Kazakh authorities will remain patient with the project and that the companies involved are putting all their resources into "fixing the problem as soon as possible."
Geraldine Amiel and Selina Williams contributed to this article.
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