(By Balachander) Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE:MRO) is selling a 35 percent interest in two oil exploration blocks in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to France's Total SA (NYSE:TOT). Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Following the transaction, Marathon Oil cut its stake to a 45 percent working interest in Harir and Safen oil fields. Total will be the operator of the development of the Safen block, while Marathon remains operator of the Harir block.
The Kurdistan Regional Government continues to have a fully carried 20 percent interest in each of the blocks.
Drilling of the first exploration well on the Harir block commenced on July 30, while the first exploration well on the Safen block is planned for the first half of 2013.
A 2-D seismic program on both blocks is ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of this year.
Houston, Texas-based Marathon Oil had net proved reserves of 1.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent at the end of 2011.
MRO shares added 0.41 percent to trade at $27.01 on Tuesday and U.S. listed shares of Total rose 1.16 percent.