Angola to offer new exploration blocks

Sep 29, 2005 02:00 AM

by Stewart Bailey and Antony Sguazzin

Angola, Africa's fourth-largest oil producer, planned to offer new oil exploration blocks off its southern coast to boost output by more than half by 2008, said Syanga Abilio, the vice-president of national oil company Sonangol. The licences would be allocated by the end of the year in an open bidding process, he said at the World Petroleum Congress in Johannesburg. They would cover blocks 15, 17 and 18 in Angola's lower Congo basin.
"This bid is open to existing companies operating in Angola and to newcomers. We'll also be inviting independents to come and bid.”

Angola's oil production would rise to 2 mm bpd by 2008 as it sought to take advantage of soaring oil prices, he said. It planned to produce an average of about 1.3 mm bpd this year, according to a report provided by Sonangol.
The country wants to refine more of the additional oil output at its own refineries to supply its local market and raise the value of exports. The government would by the end of the year select a partner to build a 200,000 bpd oil refinery at Lubito, in the south of the country, Abilio said, without naming a shortlist of potential partners the government has identified.

Desiderio Costa, Angola's energy minister, said on September 19 that the government was in talks with ExxonMobil and Chevron about building the refinery. The country also plans to gain more revenue from its gas reserves. Angola had 13 tcf of reserves, making it Africa's fifth-largest reserve base, according a Jean Privey, the head of Total's gas and power unit.
Natural gas, produced as a by-product of oil, is usually "flared", or burnt. Angola's government has agreed, along with Nigeria, to eliminate flaring by 2008. The gas would now be liquefied and exported under a directive from the government, Abilio said.

Sonangol, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Total would each own a stake in the liquefaction plant, Antonio Orfao, a director of Sonangol, said. The excess gas from oil fields operated by the plants' owners and others, would be captured and piped to the central plant for processing, he said.
The government was currently studying the feasibility of the project and would decide whether to proceed "soon", Orfao said.

Chevron was already building infrastructure capable of carrying the gas from its Benguela Belize oil project to the liquefied natural gas plant, said William Biggs, the head of the company's exploration unit in Angola.
Oil executives and ministers from oil-producing countries are among 3,500 delegates at the congress to discuss topics ranging from exploration technology, refinery investments, high oil prices, access to reserves and the environmental impact of fossil fuels.

Source: Bloomberg
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