Dutch Firm Wins Oil Prospecting Permit in Guinea-Bissau

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau Dec 06, 2007 (AFP via Dow Jones Newswires)

Netherlands oil firm SuperNova has signed a five-year offshore oil prospecting contract with Guinea-Bissau's national oil company Petroguin, officials said Thursday.

The deal, penned Wednesday, allows SuperNova to prospect the deep waters to the south of the poverty-stricken West African country.

The contract "authorizes (Supernova) to start deep-water exploring," said Petroguin Director Carlos Leonardo Cardoso. "But the granting of an exploitation license is the responsibility of the state president."

Managing director of SuperNova, Hugo Heerema, said work would start "very soon" without giving an estimate date.

"We hope to find petrol in commercial quantities," he said.

Several offshore explorations have already revealed the presence of oil reserves in Guinea-Bissau with an expected annual output of around 120,000 metric tons of crude oil.

Five oil blocks had been identified offshore in the south and the north of the Bijagos archipelago in the east of this former Portuguese colony, rated by the U.N. as the world's third most impoverished country.

But experts say it is heavy oil, located in deeper waters and whose exploitation requires expensive technology.

After SuperNova, Petroguin is due to sign other contracts with two oil companies from Angola - Societe Angolaise des Hydrocarbures and SER Petrolium.

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