Total SA (Total) will continue to invest more in 2009 exploration and production even as oil prices fall, according to a Total’s official. The company's investment in exploration and production will rise by about 15%, the official noted.

“With a perspective on the long term we will continue to invest,” according to Laurent Maurel, vice president for business strategy at Total’s exploration and production division. “We will invest more in 2009 than in 2008 despite the drop in oil prices,” he said at an energy conference in Paris.

Maurel in a interview said that the company will invest in the same “traditional geographic zones” as previous years.

Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie said that the company will announce lower earnings for the fourth quarter and the current quarter on declining oil prices, which have plunged more than $100 a barrel in the past six months. The company will declare its fourth-quarter results next month.

Crude oil trading below $50 a barrel is a “danger” because investment by smaller companies may decline, according to Christophe de Margerie.