Total said it acquired a 40 percent stake in an exploration license in Yemen from Oil Search, Papua New Guinea's largest oil and natural gas company, for around $40 million.
"With this acquisition, Total is pursuing its strategy of expanding its exploration and production activities in Yemen, in high-potential geological basins that offer a close fit with existing projects," Arnaud Breuillac, a senior vice president for Middle East operations at Total, said in a statement.
Total said it would work with Austrian energy company OMV, the Czech Republic's MND and state-owned Yemen General Corp. for Oil and Gas. Total said it would start exploration with a seismic survey once the transaction was completed and approved by the Yemeni Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources.
OMV said in February that while the security situation in Yemen "remains uncertain" the "negative external influences" in the country aren't expected to be "as significant" in the year ahead.
In late 2010, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was blamed for a raid on the Yemeni headquarters of OMV.
Yemeni security is tense following a political transition. More than 100 soldiers were killed in a recent attack allegedly carried about by AQAP, the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida.