Led by Sonangol and international oil companies, the upstream panel provided insight into Angola’s exploration potential, regulatory reforms, and sectoral competitiveness

LUANDA, Angola: The second edition of the Angola Oil and Gas (AOG) 2021 conference comprised a productive upstream panel discussion led by Angola’s national oil company, Sonangol, and international oil companies (IOC) currently active in the country. Focusing on increasing the country’s competitiveness regarding frontier exploration in the age of energy transition and the COVID-19 pandemic, the upstream forum emphasized Angolan exploration as a key driver of energy sector growth and success.

Moderated by NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, participants included Sebastião Gasper Martins, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sonangol; Matteo Bacchini, Managing Director, Eni; Melissa Bond, Lead Country Manager/Managing Director, ExxonMobil, Angola; Dereck Magness, Managing Director, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company; Raphael Guerithault, Director Marketing & Strategy for Offshore Atlantic Basin, Schlumberger; Rui Rodrigues, Pre-Development and Exploration assets Director, TotalEnergies EP Angola; and Adriano Bastos, Senior President, BP Angola.

Angola’s impressive hydrocarbon reserves – initially estimated at 8 billion barrels of oil (bbl) and 11 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas with new evaluations suggesting 57 bbl and 27 tcf – have positioned the country as a top exploration market. Having established itself as Africa’s third largest producer – producing over 1 million barrels per day – Angola is committed to accelerating exploration and production in 2021 and beyond. With the active presence of global oil giants including Eni, TotalEnergies, BP, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, ExxonMobil, Equinor and Schlumberger, as well as a dedicated national oil company, Angola has remained undeterred by global pressures to abandon fossil fuel exploration in the wake of the energy transition, accelerating exploration and positioning itself as a global hydrocarbon competitor.

“Angola has made significant progress in the last few years in terms of reforms and has set the base for further development in the country. At Eni, we did not stop exploring. We discovered more than 2 billion barrels of resources since 2018 and we believe the future will be full of investments and developments in Angola’s oil and gas industry. By maximizing the existing infrastructure facilities and with new areas and basins to be explored, the future is waiting for us,” stated Matteo Bacchini

In addition to sizeable reserves, accelerated exploration campaigns have been attributed to the country’s enabling environment. Angola’s revised hydrocarbon exploration strategy – which seeks to stabilize oil production and expand recoverable reserves by intensifying exploration – as well as the recent restructuring of the national oil company (NOC) Sonangol – aimed at improving partnerships with international oil companies (IOC) and enhancing hydrocarbon operations through exploration investments – has positioned the country as a competitive exploration market. With the oil and gas industry recognized as a catalyst for strong and sustained socio-economic growth, both national and international stakeholders have expressed no intention of slowing down. Committed to eradicating energy poverty and driving a strong post-COVID-19 economic recovery, Angola is enhancing upstream growth.

“In Block 15 where ExxonMobil is the operator, we have just celebrated our 27th anniversary. We have had 18 commercial discoveries and are in the process of a redevelopment program. This time next year, we will have two rigs active in Block 15, with hopefully further discoveries made,” stated Melissa Bond.  

“There have been a lot of reforms done recently that help us become ore competitive. The way to measure success is to measure outcome, and when you see the amount of money coming into Angola, you can see the success. BP has a lot of history in Angola and the country is part of our resilient hydrocarbon strategy and part of our energy transition. We have a lot to do and so far it has been extremely positive,” stated Adriano Bastos.

Meanwhile, with the COVID-19 pandemic and energy transition restricting hydrocarbon investment, panel participants indicated the importance of Angola remaining competitive. The country has done this with a new Hydrocarbon Exploration Strategy – aimed to enhance upstream activities – as well as through improved fiscal terms.

“There is a much smaller pool of capital available in the energy industry today regarding investment as there was in 2019. When we look at the opportunities globally, competitiveness, fiscal terms, stability and sanctity, tax environments etc, are important factors for investors. Having these factors in Angola has created competitive terms for stakeholders,” stated Dereck Magness.

While the world shifts its attention away from fossil fuels, Angola is committed to exploiting its significant hydrocarbon reserves and spurring associated socio-economic growth. The upstream panel participants emphasized that IOCs are focused on Angolan exploration and are committed to working in collaboration with Sonangol to advance the country’s energy sector.


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