See also:
» 07.01.2011 - Record Zimbabwe debts to Equatorial Guinea
» 13.05.2010 - Equatorial Guinea seals oil agreement with Ghana
» 21.05.2009 - Spanish oil returns to Equatorial Guinea
» 23.07.2008 - Gabon, Equatorial Guinea resolving border dispute
» 03.06.2008 - Equatoguinean govt buys oil assets
» 27.06.2007 - Sky-high profits in Equatorial Guinea oil sector now over
» 02.06.2006 - Zimbabwe gets petrol from Equatorial Guinea
» 03.04.2006 - No Zimbabwe-Equatorial Guinea oil deal

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Equatorial Guinea
Economy - Development

New oil exploration offshore Equatorial Guinea

afrol News, 10 September - Block "I" offshore Equatorial Guinea's Bioko Island is to be explored by Noble Energy, a Texan oil company deeply involved in the Central African dictatorship. The Equatoguinean government has approved the exploration deal that opens up a new block immediately adjacent to oil producing offshore block.

The Texan oil company's Chairman, Charles Davidson, in a statement today praised the "excellent relationship with the government of Equatorial Guinea" as he announced the new contract to explore Block "I" offshore Bioko Island. The block is to be explored in cooperation with the Equatoguinean government and GEPetrol, a "state-owned company" that is under the control of Equatorial Guinea's dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Noble Energy today announced that it had acquired an interest in a Production Sharing Contract with the government of Equatorial Guinea covering Block "I". Under the terms of the contract, the small Texan oil company was to be the block's technical operator with a 40 percent working interest. The deal was approved by the Equatoguinean Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy on 1 September.

Noble's partner on Block "I" is the minor US oil company Atlas Group with 60 percent working interest, which will be the block's administrative operator. Equatorial Guinea's GEPetrol is to have a 5 percent carried interest once commerciality has been determined. After GEPetrol assumes its carried interest, Noble's interest will be proportionately reduced to 38 percent, according to the deal.

Block "I" is immediately adjacent to Block "O", which was awarded to Noble in April this year. The small Texan company is also the technical operator of Block "O" with a 45 percent working interest. Further, the company will "excellent" links to the Equatoguinean presidency also holds a 33.75 percent working interest in the Alba field, which contains estimated gross resources of approximately one billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Block "I" covers 806 square kilometres, and is located in water depths in excess of 500 meters, according to Noble. To date, only one 3-D seismic survey has been acquired on the block. This 3-D seismic was shot by GESeis, a joint venture between the Equatorial Guinea's GEPetrol and the Norwegian company InSeis Terra.

Noble leader Davidson today insisted that his company maintained "an excellent relationship with the government of Equatorial Guinea, and we look forward to working with them and our partners on this project." According to Mr Davidson, "several substantial leads have already been identified on Block 'I,' and we expect the prospectivity of this acreage will be enhanced after we process the recently acquired 3-D seismic later this year."

Also the Atlas Group is already widely present in Equatorial Guinea, where it already holds three other licenses - on Blocks H, J and P - and operates in several other West African states.

Equatorial Guinea's oil sector is dominated by minor US companies that are obliged to maintain good ties with the country's presidency. President Obiang rules the Spanish ex-colony since he came to power in a 1979 military coup and has placed members of his extended family in most government positions, in particular those related to natural resources.

Private accounts of the Equatoguinean dictator are currently investigated by US prosecutors as Mr Obiang and his family is suspected of derailing the main part of the country's oil revenues into their personal economy. The Equatoguinean opposition has urged Western companies not to invest in the country as this only strengthens President Obiang's grip on power.

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