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Lloyds List: Angola offers ultra-deepwater stakes

Published: Sep 20, 2007

ANGOLA has launched its next hydrocarbon exploration licensing round with its ultra-deepwater blocks likely to be the pick of the bunch, writes Martyn Wingrove.

The West African country, which joined the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries this year, wants to attract fresh investment from oil majors and smaller companies through this year’s round.

State oil firm Sonangol is offering 10 licences, including seven offshore and three land blocks, with tenders to be submitted in the fourth quarter.

Probably the most eagerly anticipated are ultra-deepwater blocks 46, 47 and 48, situated in the Lower Congo basin, west of BP’s prolific deepwater block 31.

These blocks cover 2,000-3,500 sq km of offshore acreage, which has not been drilled, but has some limited seismic information coverage.

The blocks are west of where BP has found more than 10 oil fields, which it is preparing to develop, probably using floating production, storage and offloading vessels.

It is likely that the oil majors already operating in Angola BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Marathon and Total and potentially those which do not work in the country, such as Shell, could tender for these blocks.

Sonangol is also re-offering three 4,800 sq km licences covering the Kwanza basin deepwater blocks 19, 20 and 21, and one shallow water licence covering block 9.

These are just off the coast of Luanda in an area where a few disappointing wells have been drilled. But independent oil companies may fancy their chances of discovering oil in these areas.

The three onshore blocks include one in Cabinda, which lies north of the Congo river, and two south of Luanda in the Bengo province.

The smaller independent explorers are likely to be interested in these blocks as operating costs will be lower.

Competing for all of this year’s blocks could be an array of state enterprises from oil consumers China and India.

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