Marathon takes Gabon pre-salt block

Marathon Oil has firmed up an exploration and production sharing agreement for a deep-water pre-salt block off Gabon.

The US independent has grabbed Block G13, which has been named the Tchicuate block, off the emerging West African oil nation.

Reports at the end of July suggested the company was joined with US supermajor ExxonMobil, Petrobras of Brazil and others in being awarded acreage under Gabon's offshore licensing round, held last October.

Marathon will hold 100% of the Tchicuate block, which sits about 80 kilometres offshore in water depths of between 990 metres and 2515 metres.

The block, which measures 275,000 acres, is near proven deep-water pre-salt oil discoveries.

Mitch Little, Marathon Oil vice president, for international & offshore exploration & production, said: "The addition of the Tchicuate block aligns well with our strategic focus of capturing quality and material resource in proven and emerging oil provinces, and adds depth to the company's exploration portfolio, following our 2013 Diaman-1B discovery on the Diaba block."

Seven companies were awarded new acreage off Gabon in last year's licensing round. Apart from Marathon, ExxonMobil and Petrobras, France's Perenco, Spain's Repsol, Africa-focused duo Ophir Energy and Impact Oil & Gas were all winners.

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, French counterpart Total and US independents Noble Energy and Cobalt International Energy missed out on the list of preferred candidates, a report from Reuters said last month.

The bid round was initially for 17 blocks, but bids for the other eight were not high enough.

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.

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