UPDATE 1-Eq. Guinea to approve Noble gas, oil project
* Sees Noble producing 50,000 bpd
* Sees investments in gas sector at $5 bln
(Wraps separates, adds details)
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, July 7 (Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea expects to award Noble Energy (NBL.N) a full approval for its gas and oil project in the country in the coming week, the deputy energy minister said on Tuesday.
Deputy Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy Gabriel Obiang Lima told an African energy conference in Cape Town that Noble had already been awarded a technical approval for the project.
The country's government had initially rejected the project because it dealt only with oil, he said.
"Noble has had a very successful campaign... I'm pleased to confirm that the prospect... (and) plan of developing has been approved on a technical basis and full approval is expected in the coming week," he said.
Lima also said Noble's project set out for $2 billion to be spent over five years.
The project is expected to start producing oil from the Doula field in the first quarter of 2012, with initial output seen at 50,000 barrels per day (bpd).
"We will just maintain that production for a while," Lima told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.
Lima forecast investments in the gas industry would grow in the next few years, citing a figure of at least $5 billion.
"We are talking about heavy investment... the initial figures are $5 billion in the entire gas utilisation system... (but) it could escalate beyond," he said.
He said in the past decade investments in the country's petroleum sectors totalled some $10 billion.
"By mid-next year we are hoping to make an FID (final investment decision) on any of these projects," he said. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf, Editing by Peter Blackburn)
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