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Angola Govt Approves Bidding Round for Onshore Oil Blocks

Source: Reuters 4/3/2013, Location: Africa

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Angola's government approved the guidelines of a plan to hold bidding for licences to explore for oil onshore in the Kwanza and Lower Congo basins, the cabinet office said. The government said in a statement that it has asked parliament to approve the plan. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' ruling MPLA party has a large parliamentary majority.

Angola, which is Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, plans to ramp up crude output to 2 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2015 from around 1.75 mbpd last year.

State oil firm Sonangol, which is the main player in the oil sector in Angola, is also in charge of awarding licences. Sonangol board member Sebastiao Martins said in February that the company was awaiting government approval for plans to seek bids for 10 onshore oil blocks in the Kwanza basin and five in the Lower Congo basin in northern Angola.

Angola's first oil discoveries were made onshore in the 1950s, but most of its crude now comes from offshore fields. Oil revenues represent over 95 percent of the country's export income and around 45 percent of gross domestic product.

Analysts and investors believe drilling thousands of metres under the Kwanza Basin seabed through blocks known as pre-salt, could match huge discoveries made off the Brazilian coast in similar rock formations in recent years. Angola in December 2011 offered offshore exploration rights in the promising pre-salt layer to seven oil majors including France's Total, Britain's BP and U.S. firm Cobalt.

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