DUBAI, (Reuters) – French energy giant Total has dropped out of a project to explore for gas in Saudi Arabia’s vast Empty Quarter, transferring its stake to project partners Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco, their joint venture company said on Friday.
“Shell and Saudi Aramco are to increase their share ownership (in the joint venture company) following approval of the Saudi government for Total to transfer its shares in the venture to them,” the venture said in a statement.
Shell held a 40 percent stake in the venture — called South Rub al-Khali Co — while Aramco and Total held 30 percent each, it added, without giving financial or other details of the transfer.
“The joint venture is determined to complete the remainder of its exploration program,” Patrick Allman-Ward, chief executive officer of the venture, said in the statement.
The venture began exploring in 2004 for gas, condensate and natural gas liquids in nine blocks in two separate parts of the vast desert area of southeast Saudi Arabia, known in Arabic as the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter).