Angola delays bidding for new oil blocks to Q1 2014
MOSCOW Oct 28 (Reuters) - Angola has delayed bidding for new licences to explore for oil to the first quarter of 2014 and would welcome bids from Russian companies, its oil minister said on Monday.
Angola, which is Africa's biggest crude producer after Nigeria, is seeking to raise output to 2 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2015 from around 1.7 mbpd this year.
State oil company Sonangol last month announced plans to hold bidding this year and next for licences to explore for oil onshore in 10 new blocks in the Kwanza and Lower Congo basins.
"It will be in the first quarter of (2014)," Oil Minister Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos told Reuters on the sidelines Russia's annual Energy Week event in Moscow.
"This year it is not possible," the minister added, without giving further details.
Angola plans to offer a total of 15 blocks in 2014, he said.
The government last week forecast total output of 655 million barrels of crude next year, or nearly 1.8 million mbpd, according to the draft budget for 2014.
That estimate is lower than an earlier one which saw crude production at 1.93 mbpd next year, but Vasconcelos said the target for 2015 was still in sight.
"We are working on these targets - about 1.7 mbpd this year, 1.8 mbpd in 2014 and 2 mbpd in 2015," he told reporters.
The minister said Angola would welcome Russian investment in its hydrocarbons sector.
"If, for instance, Rosneft is interested in our projects, we are open," Vasconcelos said, referring to the Russian state major that is the world's largest listed oil company by output.
Angola's ruling MPLA party was backed by the Soviet Union during a 27-year civil war which it won against U.S.-backed rebel group UNITA in 2002. Long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos studied in Moscow in the 1970s.
The countries have recently strengthened ties. Russia's VTB bank last year helped Angola raise $1 billion in a private placement and Russian media reported this month a sale of military equipment worth $1 billion to the African country. (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Mark Potter)
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