oil in the congo

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    UPDATE 1-Angola, Congo set up joint oil zone, end dispute
    Thu June 5, 2003 10:41 AM ET
    (Adds quote, final paragraph)
    LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) - Congo Republic and Angola have set up a joint development area similar to that of Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe, ending a border dispute that had blocked deepwater oil exploration, officials said on Thursday.

    The first technical discussions took place in Paris last week to discuss development of the zone that includes Angolan block 14 and part of Congo's Haute Mer field, they said.

    "We have a very important exploration programme," said Bruno Itoua, chairman of Congo Republic's national oil company, the SNPC.

    Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in London, he added that two or three exploration wells were expected to be drilled this year in the new area.

    He said talks in Paris had been attended by representatives of Italy's ENI ENI.MI , Angola's Sonangol, French major Total TOTF.PA and U.S. major ChevronTexaco CVX.N .

    Documents on setting up the zone, known as the Zone d'Interet Commun (Common Interest Zone), were signed in March, Itoua said.

    He said 50 percent of oil revenues would go to Angola and 50 percent to Congo Republic. The joint authority's office will be based in Brazzaville with the Secretary General Angolan and the Deputy Secretary General Congolese.

    Angola produces some 900,000 barrels of oil a day, with output expected to rise to 1.6 million barrels per day, or even further, within five years.

    Congo Republic is hoping to boost its production, which Itoua said had been declining for two years and was currently around 250,000 barrels per day (bpd).

    Following the resolution of their border dispute, Sao Tome and Principe and Nigeria are in the process of inviting bids for nine deepwater blocks in their Joint Development Zone in a licensing round launched on April 22 and concluding on October 18.

    Road shows will be held later this month in London and in Houston, United States.

    The Sao Tome/Nigeria zone is estimated to have between six and 10 billion barrels of crude. Nigeria will receive 60 percent of oil revenues and Sao Tome 40 percent under the joint development agreement.

    A further licensing round for the Exclusive Economic Zone, where Sao Tome and Principe has sole sovereignty, is expected in 2004, officials said.

    "There will be a licensing round for a number of blocks in 2004 once the existing round is out of the way," said Tom Ziegler, a manger at PGS Exploration which is helping to promote Sao Tome and Principe's offshore acreage.
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