* Noble, Cobalt, Elenilto named as among winners last year
* Total invited to join offshore negotiations
LIBREVILLE May 14 Three companies previously
named as among the winners in an offshore oil licensing round in
Gabon have been dropped from the list, the country's oil
minister said on Wednesday.
"The offshore requires huge investment and the companies
turned down did not meet those requirements," oil minister
Etienne Ngoubou told reporters. The three were Noble Energy Inc
, Cobalt International Energy Inc and a company
Gabon awarded 13 oil and gas blocks to 11 companies in
October 2013 as part of a major deepwater licensing round, which
the central African country hopes will double its output to
500,000 barrels per day.
In a decision which surprised some industry participants at
the time, existing producers Total and Royal Dutch
Shell did not appear on the list.
Ngoubou said Total had been invited for negotiations,
without giving any details. "Total has been called in for
discussions with the body in charge of negotiations," he said.
The other companies awarded blocks in October were Ophir
Energy, Eni, ExxonMobil, Marathon
, Perenco, Repsol, Petronas and
The bidding round, which has been delayed for three years,
offers a chance for the former OPEC member to reverse a decline
in production from a peak of about 370,000 bpd in the 1990s.
Some geologists think offshore west Africa may contain
deepwater reserves beneath a layer of salt on the ocean bed
comparable to those found offshore Brazil.
(Reporting by Jean Rovys Dabany; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing
by David Evans and David Holmes)