Angola’s new exploration strategyMay 26, 2021
Paulino Jerónimo, president of the National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG), talks to The Energy Year about the latest on Angola’s upstream developments and the country’s new exploration and gas monetisation strategies. The ANPG is Angola’s national concessionaire of hydrocarbons and undertakes the supervision, regulation and promotion of activities in the oil and gas industry.
What have been the key recent developments for the ANPG?
In 2019 and the beginning of 2020, we negotiated new agreements with existing contracted groups. We negotiated the extension and merging of the development areas for Block 14 [operated by CABGOC] and the plan is to drill six new wells. This drilling programme was supposed to start in 2020 but was postponed because of Covid-related delays.
For Block 15 [operated by ExxonMobil] we also negotiated an extension, and as part of that, instead of 11 development areas we now have four. We extended the contract duration of these areas until 2032 and in the first phase we are going to drill around 17 wells. In the second phase, we expect to drill more than 20 wells. The rigs contracted for these drilling campaigns were also suspended due to the Covid situation. We are negotiating with the rig operator to bring them back by the middle of 2021.
For Block 17 [operated by Total] we standardised the existing development areas in two phases. The first phase will run to 2035 and the second to 2045. The plan is to keep Block 17 production at a minimum of 400,000 bopd until 2024. We are talking about USD 2 billion of investment here, which includes drilling wells and improving the facilities, because we are now going to develop new fields such as Zinia phase two, CLOV phase two and Dalia phase three.
For Block 18 [operated by BP] we are drilling wells in a new development area, Platina. That started in October 2020. First oil is expected to be at the end of 2021.
As you know, we have a new decree that gives us fiscal and contractual incentives for marginal discoveries. Based on this decree, we declared marginal discoveries in three fields in Block 31 and four fields in Block 0, Cabinda. Now the companies are taking the necessary steps to develop them.
In Block 0 we have started already. The companies are building the facilities for the fields development, and we just need to bring in the rig. For Block 31, the companies are finalising the FEED. Unfortunately, there have been delays in implementation due to Covid, but to be clear, there have been no cancellations.
Could you share some details from your new exploration strategy?
The new strategy was created in order for us to evaluate Angola’s existing sedimentary basins. Production in 2008 was around 2 million bopd, and since then we have been in decline. One reason for the decline is that we didn’t have enough exploration.
Because of this, we decided to put together an exploration strategy. The design of the bid rounds is now working in line with this strategy to evaluate the free areas and the existing producing areas. Now we are working on ultra-deepwater blocks that were not ordered. We are negotiating blocks 46, 47, 49 and 50. We will divide the ultra-deepwater acreage in the Kwanza Basin into new blocks – 51, 52, 53 and so on.
We will also do a new evaluation of the so-called pre-salt areas – that is, blocks 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40. These will be re-evaluated because they were drilled without success and we need to incorporate the existing information to see if there is potential. This will take around two years.
We will continue our evaluation of the Namibe onshore regarding division into blocks. Another of the big tasks we will undertake is related to interior basins. We have the responsibility to evaluate and divide into blocks the Etosha, Okavango and Kassanje basins. We have started working on that. We will do these divisions and then conduct bid rounds for the blocks starting in 2023.
What about the producing areas?
We will also concentrate on existing producing areas. We found that there is some potential there. The plan is for the existing operators to drill in those areas so that if they make a discovery, they can bring it right into production because the facilities already exist.
We want to make sure production stays at a steady rate. While we are waiting for exploration results, we are going to start developing the marginal fields, of which we have many already identified. We declared marginal discoveries on seven fields: three on Block 31 and four on Block 0, and we will continue to declare more marginal discoveries on blocks 0, 6, 17, 14 and 41.
How will the new local content decree impact the energy industry?
We already have local content in action. We have the construction yards in Lobito, Porto Amboim and Ambriz. So the local content is there, and we will continue working with local companies. The goal is to increase it. I don’t think we will increase the number of construction yards, as that isn’t needed. But we are supporting some smaller types of construction, such as logistics bases to support the development of new blocks/concessions being awarded, in order to attract international investors.
Local content doesn’t refer only to Angolans. It also refers to someone who wants to invest in Angola. It includes international companies that are based in Angola and invest in the country. Sometimes people don’t understand that, and it is an important point to emphasise.
Could you give us an update on gas monetisation?
We created the New Gas Consortium, or NGC, which is headed by Eni and also includes Sonangol, Total, BP and Chevron. They will develop the existing non-associated gasfields in blocks 1, 2 and 3 and sell the gas to Angola LNG in Soyo. Besides feeding Angola LNG, a portion of the gas production is for domestic consumption. It will most likely be used to make fertiliser.
Further, we have a project utilising the gas from Block 0. We are building a platform/infrastructure in order to be able to send that gas from Cabinda to the Angola LNG plant.
There is also a project co-ordinated by the Ministry of Energy to convert all of the thermal diesel stations to gas-powered ones. This is happening with gas from the onshore Cabinda South block, where the operator, Pluspetrol, is developing a project to feed the gas to an existing local thermal station that is now fuelled by diesel. That thermal station has three generators, and one is already converted to gas. The second will be very soon – this will happen when we finish developing the Cabinda South project. The goal is to have all the stations fuelled by gas in the next two years. This will save a lot of money.
What are your goals for the first half of 2021?
One of our goals is to bring in more rigs. We have eight rigs in suspension [as of November 2020], we brought back three and we are trying to bring in at least three more over the next six months in order to continue developing existing fields.
We are also hoping to have the final investment decision for the New Gas Consortium. I expect it will happen in the middle of 2021. We will continue drilling wells in the Platina development area and in Block 17, and we will do exploration work in Block 48 and drill one appraisal well in Block 20, which is operated now by Total.
How will the ANPG embrace digitalisation in its processes and operations?
We already held a tender for a company to support us on this and awarded the contract to EY. They will work with us, starting internally in the agency and then spreading this support to operators and other entities. Instead of having everything on paper, such as approvals, digital formats will be used to speed up the processes. That is the final goal.
One of our first goals is that instead of sending a list of services companies for approval in a tender, we will have this list available digitally. We will have a company database available to us and the operators so that companies can be approved that way instead of on paper. We have already started to put together this list.
We wouldn’t expect the next bidding process to be fully digitalised, but the one after it likely will be. It will take time, not only because of the work we need to do but also because we need to change the laws. But it will happen: We have the tools in place to speed up the process.