Sonangol announces massive oil and gas discovery in Angola


Angola’s state-run oil giant Sonangol has announced a gas discovery in the offshore Kwanza Basin that could hold 813 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The discovery is in Block 20/11 and BP holds an interest in this block along with the Angolan state company.

Initial news of the discovery was announced in April by Sonangol and later in May by US operator Cobalt. The revised estimate is significantly higher than Sonangol had stated in April when it said: “The test results confirm the presence of gas and condensate, and estimated post-drilling resources of 139 million barrels of condensate and 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, for a total of 570 million barrels of oil equivalent”.

Cobalt is currently the operator of the block with a 40% stake, while Sonangol holds 30% and BP 30%.

Angola has been running short of foreign reserves to pay for imports because its national oil firm has not contributed to state coffers since January, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said yesterday.

Remittances from Sonangol, which is now run by the president’s daughter Isabel, represented 60% of total government revenues, but the firm halted payments after the price of oil fell, dos Santos said.

“Our country lives upon imports, practically. Imports for food, for raw materials to national manufactures, for industry, agriculture, construction, for payments to expats and foreign workers,” Dos Santos said after meeting cabinet ministers.

Dos Santos, president since end of brutal civil war in 1979, said the sharp fall in oil prices, which are down more than 20% from a year ago, had led to cash flow problems for Sonangol, and Angola now had to diversify its economy.

Oil output represents 40% of Angola’s gross domestic product and more than 95% of foreign exchange revenue.