Total said it did not comment on "market rumours". It said that Laggan-Tormore was "a core asset for Total and, with the start-up of the project later this year, the group will commence production from its third operated hub in the UK North Sea".
If sold, it could lead to further deals in the North Sea, where a number of operators are said to be weighing disposals after internationally traded Brent crude fell from more than $115 a barrel last summer to less than $60 now. "It's accelerating. People want out," said one oil company chief executive.
It is far from certain, however, that a deal will be done soon in a volatile market that bankers say has pushed buyers and sellers apart on valuations. Potential acquirers are also reluctant to set aside large capital sums for decommissioning older fields. "In the UK, particularly, the abandonment issues are hard to resolve," said one banker.
Laggan-Tormore is a different proposition to many of the UK's offshore fields. Total's Laggan was discovered in 1986 but was then considered too small and remote to justify full development. That changed when nearby Tormore was found in 2007. Denmark's Dong Energy has a 20 per cent stake.
The combined field will produce mainly gas, the price of which, while not directly linked to oil, has fallen too, pressed by the US shale revolution. In a technically challenging project, Total has built a production system 600m down on the seabed and the gas will be taken back to land in one of the world's longest "tieback" pipe networks.