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File photo of Canadian Natural Resources chief Steve Laut.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. says it is partnering with a subsidiary of Total SA in an offshore exploration program in South Africa.

Calgary-based Canadian Natural said on Monday that subsidiary CNR International (South Africa) will transfer a 50 per cent interest in Block 11B/12B offshore South Africa to Total E&P South Africa BV.

In return, Canadian Natural will get an undisclosed up-front cash payment, recover half of past incurred costs and share in the cost of the first exploration well drilled up to $150-million (U.S.).

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The first well is slated to be drilled next year.

Block 11B/12B is located in the Outeniqua Basin, about 175 kilometres off the southern coast of South Africa; it covers an area of about 19,000 square kilometres and goes to depths of between 200 and 1,800 metres.

Canadian Natural said the newly formed joint venture will work towards finalizing the location of the initial exploration well.

"The exploration potential in this offshore area of South Africa is exciting," Canadian Natural president Steve Laut said in a news release.

"The completion of this joint venture demonstrates the opportunities provided to the Company through its international portfolio which contributes to our vast and diversified asset base."

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