Four companies to explore for oil, gas

The Rovuma basin covers an area of 60,000 square kilometres in the provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado. Given its size it has been divided into seven areas for purposes of oil and gas exploration. Two of these areas (blocks 2 and 5) have already been granted to the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro, under a contract signed in February. The Wednesday announcement covered the other five areas (which are mostly offshore), and the winning bids came the Canadian company Artumas, Anadarko of the US, ENI of Italy, and Petronas of Malaysia. Bids from three other companies, Norsk Hydro, Rockover of South Africa and Petrobras of Brazil, for these five blocks, were rejected. Bias told reporters that the government chose to divide the basin into seven blocks in order to attract the greatest possible number of companies, and maximise assessment of the basin’s potential. Bias said that in assessing the bids, the government’s evaluation commission looked at the work programme proposed. the technical and financial capacities of the companies, and their experience in matters of safety and environmental protection. In all, the companies are expected to invest about 300 million dollars, and sink eight exploratory wells in the five blocks. A further 1.3 million will be spent on social projects, and 1.5 million on training Mozambican staff. Sporadic work has taken pace in the basin over the past 20 years. Thus in 1986, the multinational oil company Esso, dug an onshore well which found no oil, but showed signs of natural gas deposits. In 1998, Lonrhopet, a subsidiary of the British company Lonrho, undertook seismic prospection and other field studies. Although Lonrhopet did not discover any commercially viable oil or gas fields, its prospection did indicate the presence of hydrocarbons in the basin.

March 2006
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