It is the company’s first in the country and has given Statoil a key role in a frontier play, which according to experts, could have similar potential to the pre-salt region off Brazil.
The company said on Tuesday it had been awarded operatorship and 55% interests in blocks 38 and 39, while it will also gain 20% partnership stakes in three other blocks in the Kwanza basin.
The acreage was awarded by Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, under a limited licensing round for pre-salt blocks in the basin.
Statoil’s executive vice president for exploration Tim Dodson said the awards represented an “important milestone” for the company in Angola, where it has been operating for 20 years and is one of its biggest producers.
“The Angolan pre-salt is a frontier play with high potential, believed to be analogous to pre-salt Brazil. Early access to a multiple block portfolio in exploring this new play gives Statoil exposure to significant upside potential should the play be proven,” he said.
Statoil is partnered on Block 38 by Sonangol P&P and China Sonangol, with respective stakes of 30% and 15%, and on Block 39 by Sonangol P&P and Total, also with 30% and 15% respectively.
The company will also gain 20% interests in blocks 22, 25 and 40. Block 22 is operated by Spain’s Repsol with 30% alongside partner Sonangol P&P (50%), while French giant Total is operator of Block 25 with 35%, with partners BP (15%) and Sonangol P&P (30%), and also on Block 40 with 50%, where it is partnered by Sonangol P&P (30%).
Sonangol has a carried interest of 30% in all blocks during the exploration phase.
Statoil is required to commit expenditure of $1.4 billion to cover both signature bonuses and a minimum work commitment related to the block awards.
The work programme will include 3D seismic acquisition covering 18,400 square kilometres in total and drilling of eight exploration wells.
The company will also provide funding for development of Sonangol’s Research & Technology Center, as well as social projects and training programmes for Sonangol employees.
Statoil is already a partner in blocks 4/05, 15, 15/06, 17 and 31 off Angola, which accounted for 34% of the company’s total international oil production last year.