French energy players Total and GDF Suez will invest about $1bn in a 25% stake in Kazakh gas field project Khvalynskoye, the head of Total has announced.

Total will hold a 17% stake in the project, and GDF Suez will hold 8%, Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie told Reuters reporters during an official visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Kazakhstan.

The Caspian Sea’s Khvalynskoye field, jointly owned by Kazakh state energy company KazMunaiGas and Russia’s Lukoil, is due to come on stream in 2016 with an estimated production of between 8 and 9 billion cubic metres of gas a year.

This is GDF Suez’s first investment in Kazakhstan, but Total is already present in the country’s giant Kashagan oilfield project, in which Total has a 16.8% stake.

Other shareholders are Italy’s Eni, Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and KazMunaigas.