Mozambique to Grant More Natural Gas Concessions

MAPUTO, Mozambique - Resource-rich Mozambique will grant more natural gas concessions off its northern coast following major discoveries in recent years, the country's National Petroleum Institute told AFP Tuesday.

Companies can start applying by the end of the year, INP administrator Carlos Zacarias told AFP.

"The bidding will be effective from December until the middle of next year," said Mr. Zacarias.

"There is a big interest in exploration," he said, adding that almost all the majors Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and Chevron Corp. had expressed an interest in bidding for potentially highly lucrative concessions to explore for gas off the country's Indian Ocean coast.

The areas on offer are east of the existing blocs in the deep water Rovuma basin close to the Tanzanian border in the north-east, as well in the Zambezi River Delta in the centre of the country, said Mr. Zacarias.

Around 130 trillion cubic feet of gas have been discovered so far, but this is barely half of what might eventually be extracted, authorities said in September.

Even with the current discoveries--mostly in concessions managed by U.S.-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Italy's ENI SpA --Mozambique could become one of the world's top Liquefied Natural Gas exporters after Qatar and Australia.

The INP declined to confirm at this stage how many areas were under consideration, saying it was conducting preliminary exploration in order to determine their value.

Mozambique has so far held five hydrocarbon bidding rounds, the biggest six years ago for the Rovuma concessions.

By law, the country's National Hydrocarbon Co must have a stake in all fields.

So far oil hasn't been discovered in commercial viable quantities off the Mozambican coast. However, the concessions granted will allow operators to explore for both oil and natural gas.


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