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Shell’s operations in Angola are worthy of discussion…

Comments from our sources on recent statements about Shell’s operations in Angola made by it’s Executive VP for sub-Saharan Africa, Ann Pickard (Right).

Shell’s exit from Angola was not a success story and it throws a slightly different light on Ann Pickard’s remarks in Nigeria.

Her comment about Angola’s production exceeding that of Nigeria sounds like an attack on Bichsel et al who pulled Shell out of Angola a few years ago. It is Brinded and (especially) Bichsel who threw the Angola opportunity away.

I remember our explorers bid for some blocks and got all of the crap while the others found big fields. And what we sold off turned out to be much better than expected.

Shell had the opportunity to obtain block 17, but decided that the huge structure visible on the seismic was too big to be an oilfield. It was in fact the Girassol field, and Elf (now Total) got it!

Shell pulled out of Block 16 (where they were operator), selling out to CNR who in turn sold it to Maersk (who have recently made major discoveries in the block.

Shell sold their interest in Block 18 (operated by BP) to the Chinese. It is currently producing very large amounts of oil…

Basically the whole Angola story is proof of the inability of Shell to find oil. You cannot find oil and gas via a strictly controlled process whereby after ticking all the standard boxes you have a big field. One needs top professionals in their fields and surely they should be guided by some simple processes so you don’t overlook something critical. But it is the professionals that do it. And they have mostly left or are kicked out.

Because professionals are difficult people, they may say things that managers do not want to hear…

Angola’s Oil Exploration/Production Blocks January 2005 and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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