Congo to Hold Licensing Round This Summer

Congo Republic will hold an offshore licensing round in the next few weeks in an effort to reverse its declining oil production. "Several fields have already produced more than half their reserves," Energy and Water Minister Philippe Mvouo told a conference in London. "But there is a great deal of potential not yet discovered." Areas on offer include maritime zones 6, 7, 11 and 12. The country is also going to offer a very large sedimentary onshore zone.

Angola and the Congo Republic have also recently ended a border dispute which halted deepwater exploration. The first technical discussions took place in Paris last week to discuss development of the zone that includes Angolan block 14 and part of Congo's Haute Mer field. Documents on setting up the zone, known as the Zone d'Interet Commun (Common Interest Zone), were signed in March. Oil revenue will be shared by the two countries on a 50:50 basis. The joint authority's office will be based in Brazzaville with the Secretary General Angolan and the Deputy Secretary General Congolese.

The minister said that the country was also very eager to exploit its gas reserves, which are estimated at several hundred billion cubic meters. "Gas has never been given much attention. It has always been put second," Mvouo said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Bruno Itoua, chairman of Congo Republic's national oil company, the SNPC, said he expected licenses for the maritime zone to be offered over the coming weeks. The zones will most likely be divided into three areas.

In further efforts to improve boost Congo Republic's oil production, estimated at around 250,000 barrels per day (bpd), Itoua said the national oil company was being modernized. "We are in the process of becoming a modern group, a parent company and subsidiaries," he said.