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Total Sells Colombian Assets To Sinochem For $1 Billion

PARIS -(Dow Jones)- French oil major Total SA (TOT) said Wednesday it has agreed to sell assets in Colombia to Chinese state-run oil company Sinochem International Corp. (600500.SH) for about $1 billion, as part of a plan to focus on exploration in the Latin American country. Total will sell the stake its unit Tepma owns in the Cusiana natural gas field, and the stakes it owns in two Colombian pipelines, according to a statement. The stake in Cusiana represents 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. The operation at the Cusiana gas field is due to be reverted to Colombian state-controlled oil company Ecopetrol SA (EC) in the coming years. The transaction still requires the approval by antitrust authorities. The sale is part of an asset optimization strategy carried out by Total to focus on business with more growth potential. Total explores for oil and gas in Colombia and will keep E&P assets in the country. "Disposing of these mature assets and positions in transportation infrastructures is in line with our ongoing asset optimization strategy," Olivier de Langavant, senior vice president for strategy business development at Total's exploration and production. "For Colombia, it will allow us to focus our expertise on exploration assets with higher potential." Total said the sale of the assets to Sinochem follows the sale of two 5% stakes in the Colombian pipeline operator Ocensa to Petrominerales (PMLGF) and to Spanish company Cepsa. Chinese state-run oil and mining companies have made a big push into Latin America over the past two years. In 2010, Sinochem acquired a 40% stake in Statoil's Peregrino offshore oil field in Brazil for $3.07 billion. Sinochem had already acquired oil assets in Colombia in 2009. -By Inti Landauro, Dow Jones Newswires; +33 1 4017 1740;

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