Equatorial Guinea Awards Exploration Rights to Glencore

Equatorial Guinea will award an offshore exploration license for Block O to Glencore, a Swiss-based trading company. The company has no track record as an oil producer. The new license will be run under a special partnership between Glencore and the state-run oil company, Gepetrol. The award of the block is pending approval of the Mines and Hydrocarbons Ministry.

Gepetrol said it needed a partner that can assist with the financial side. Nguema Lima the Secretary of State for Mines and Hydrocarbons said Glencore would probably look for other companies to carry out the drilling on the Block O, which covers an area stretching northeast from Bioko Island to the Cameroon border.

Glencore currently conducts business with two of Africa's biggest producers, Nigeria and Angola, as a lifter of crude and supplier of refined products - but has not been involved in exploration and production there.

Previously, Block O was subdivided into four blocks known as B14, B15, C14 and C15. It lies east of licenses held by ExxonMobil and Marathon containing the Zafiro and Alba discoveries.