Seven Exploration Blocks Go Unwanted in Angola

The head of licensing and exploration at Angola's Ministry of Petroleum, Alfredo Rafael said that out of the 21 blocks licensed, seven of the country's offshore blocks have been ignored by international oil firms. The blocks are in the Kwanza and Namibe deep waters, off the southern Angolan coast, which, in contrast to the northern Lower Congo Basin, have shown less promising prospects, according to oil exploration companies involved in Angola.

"The Angolan government has been promoting these areas, but we saw the three dimension seismic studies and decided the blocks didn't have the commercial potential of the Lower Congo basin," Morten Rye-Larsen, exploration manager at Statoil said. Statoil has a 13.3 percent stake in blocks 15, 17 and 31 in the deep water lower Congo basin, and is keen to become an operator in the ultra deep water Congo, which has yet to be divided in licensing blocks. Statoil says they are ready to move ahead into the ultra deep water Lower Congo. The Norwegian firm is just waiting for the government to license the area.

The Angolan Ministry of Petroleum said there was no plan in the foreseeable future to hold a new licensing round. "I have no idea when the next licensing round will take place," said Rafael, adding that it was the responsibility of state oil company Sonangol. "The ministry only gives approval."