Angola eyes fresh offshore blocks

Acreage sale: For Angola next year, Oil Minister says

Angola will offer a raft of deep-water and ultra-deepwater blocks off the south of the country next year as the major African producer pushes for a targeted 2 million barrels per day of production.

A trio of onshore basins are also to be assessed, with blocks in one of them possibly also coming up for grabs within the next three years, Oil Minister Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos said at the World Petroleum Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

Angola is already offering 10 onshore blocks this year – seven in the Kwanza basin and another three in the Lower Congo basin.

“In addition, we are planning to award new blocks in the south of Angola – from the deep- and ultra-deep Namibe basin (southern part of the Kwanza basin) offshore – in 2015, with geological plays in the pre-salt making the beginning of exploration drilling in this basins, regarded so far as being (untouched),” de Vasconcelos said.

Lumen Sebastiao, head of resource evaluation at state player Sonangol, said the company has acquired the requisite 2D and 3D data ahead of the expected bid round launch.

Angola is evaluating blocks 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 in the ultra-deepwater Lower Congo basin for offer, the blocks containing the same petroleum system that Sonangol has been drilling for the past decade, he said.

In the Namibe basin off southern Angola, blocks 11, 12, 13, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 42, 43, 44 and 45 are up for consideration. The structures found in Kwanza are also apparent in this basin, Sebastiao said.

“We never put a basin on the market without first acquiring data, experimenting with new technology and then evaluating the basin,” he said.

Some of the blocks in the Namibe basin display two simultaneous working petroleum systems: pre-salt and post-salt, according to Sebastiao.

“The sustainability of Angolan oil production is not limited to two offshore blocks,” de Vasconcelos said.

Angola is looking to raise production from a current average of 1.75 million bpd to 2 million bpd next year and sustain this for five years. Eight development projects are currently ongoing, some to come on stream this year and more next year.

“It is urgent and necessary to enhance the focus on the development and qualification of potential schemes at all levels to ensure the stability of the national oil industry,” de Vasconcelos said.

“Challenges are enormous and range from review, contractual fiscal terms, increasing recovery factors, increasing efficiency of production facilities, new technologies and (using) local content.”

De Vasconcelos also “promised” that the beleaguered Angola LNG project will be up and running again in a year.

A pipeline rupture that led to a major hydrocarbons release at the liquefied natural gas plant in Soyo earlier this year led to a shutdown, with a planned outage pulled forward as a result.

“We can promise that we believe that in one year’s time everything will be operational,” de Vasconcelos, answering through an interpreter, said at WPC.

The Angola LNG plant started operations in July last year — 18 months late — delivering its first cargo to Brazil but not before fending off a range of issues including fires, pipeline leaks and maintenance delays.

US supemrajor Chevron is operator of the 5.2 million-tonnes-per-annum facility with a 36.4% stake, while state player Sonangol owns 22.8%. France’s Total, UK supermajor BP and Eni of Italy are also partners, each on 13.6%.

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