Total SA said on Wednesday it had started production from the Egina oilfield off Nigeria's coast, part of a shift by the French energy firm towards deepwater oil and gas projects to its drive cashflow.
Output from Egina, which is located in waters about 1,600 metres (5,250 ft) deep, is expected to plateau at 200,000 barrels per day of oil, Total said. That rate is equivalent to about 10 percent of Nigeria's current production.
"Egina will significantly boost the group's production and cashflow from 2019 onwards, and benefit from our strong cost reduction efforts in Nigeria where we have reduced our operating costs by 40 percent over the last four years," Total's head of exploration and production, Arnaud Breuillac, said.
Total is betting on profitable deepwater oil and gas fields in Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil and the U.S. Gulf area. In Africa, the company is ramping up deepwater projects in the Republic of Congo and Angola.
Total forecasts output from deepwater projects will reach 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020 and account for more than 35 percent of cashflow in coming years, compared with about 15 percent now.
Total also said it would take a decision this year on whether to invest in developing the Preowei field, located in the same block as the Egina field.
Total has for almost a decade been extracting oil from a third field in the block, Akpo. It holds a 24 percent stake in the block's lease and is the operator. Its partners are state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, China's CNOOC , Brazil's Petrobras and private Nigerian firm Sapetro.
The French company is one of the strongest players in African oil, holding the largest proven reserves on the continent among the world's top oil companies.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Richard Lough and Edmund Blair)