Gabon ‘selects 7’ for deep-water blocks

ExxonMobil, Petrobras and Marathon Oil are among a host of international players selected for a final round of negotiations over the award of nine deep-water blocks off Gabon, according to a report.

Spain’s Repsol, Perenco of France and Africa-focused duo Ophir Energy and Impact Oil & Gas make up the seven companies selected by the Gabonese Oil Ministry, Reuters reported.

"These companies listed are invited to finalise negotiations for the signature of the relevant CEPPs (exploration and production sharing contracts) as soon as possible," the news wire quoted Minister for Oil & Hydrocarbons Etienne Dieudonne Ngoubou as saying in a statement on Monday.

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, French counterpart Total and US independents Noble Energy and Cobalt International Energy missed out on the list of preferred candidates, the report continued. However, the ministry may return to negotiate with these companies if any of the top seven falls through.

The bid round was initially for 17 blocks, but bids for the other eight were not high enough, the news wire quoted the ministry as saying.

Gabon aims to halt a slow decline in production by boosting exploration and production from pre-salt reservoirs. Late last year 13 blocks were awarded to 11 companies in a deep-water licensing round.

Perenco, already a significant player in Gabon, is gearing up to shortly spud the Sputnik-1 wildcat in the Arouwe licence. It is joined there by ExxonMobil and Tullow Oil.

The Paris-based player will be targeting about 206 million barrels of potential oil resource when it gets to work with the drillship Tungsten Explorer.

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