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Total says drive for energy mix could include nuclear energy

Total SA, Europe's third-largest oil company, may invest more in nuclear energy in a bid to broaden its energy mix, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Total SA needs a variety of energy sources and may one day rely more on nuclear energy, said Patricia Marie, confirming comments from the group's head of exploration and production, Christophe de Margerie, published in the Financial Times today. The energy business is Total's „responsibility” to consumers, so it „will certainly one day have to be part of” the nuclear „adventure,” de Margerie told the FT.

De Margerie will become the company's chief executive officer on February 14. Marie said Total has no firm plans for specific investments such as raising Total's stake in Paris-based Areva SA, the world's biggest maker of nuclear reactors, which is now 1%. Thierry Desmarest, Total's outgoing chief executive, is a member of the supervisory board of Areva. Total is also considering whether to build a bio-diesel refinery in northern France that would make fuel from feedstock ranging from vegetable oils to animal fats and greases.

The group in 2005 signed a memorandum of understanding with Finland's Neste Oil to build the plant in Dunkirk, France. Michel Benezit, Total's head of refining, said February 1 the group is „close” to making a final investment decision. (Bloomberg)