* Plans to offer onshore Cuvette Basin blocks
* Seeking partners for abandoned shallow water blocks
* Sees LNG exports from Litchendjili beginning 2016/2017
By Joe Bavier
ABIDJAN, Nov 8 Congo Republic plans to award
around 10 onshore and offshore oil blocks by early next year in
a new licensing round, the deputy head of state-owned energy
company Societe Nationale des Petroles du Congo (SNPC) said.
A series of discoveries has kindled interest in the region,
which includes Africa's number 2 oil producer Angola, amid hopes
it could hold reserves comparable to the billions of barrels in
fields off Brazil.
Congo's oil production was thought to have peaked at over
310,000 barrels per day in 2010 according to the U.S. Energy
While output has since dipped by around 20,000 bpd, fresh
exploration could revive output.
"It will be around 10 blocks offshore and onshore," Alfred
Charles Sockath, who heads SNPC's upstream operations, told
Reuters at a gas conference in Ivory Coast late on Thursday.
"There's the Cuvette Basin ...three blocks have already been
attributed there and around another seven blocks remain," he
Eni, the biggest foreign oil company in Africa by
volume, said in September that it was on the verge of starting
survey work on its 16,000 square-kilometre Ngolo block in the
Eni has a longstanding presence in Republic of Congo, which
in 2012 accounted for some 6 percent of the Italian oil and gas
company's annual production of around 1.7 million barrels per
Eni, which is looking to expand its operations in
sub-Saharan Africa, announced in August that it had made an
important oil and gas discovery in Congo.
Sockath said the upcoming offshore offerings would include
several shallow water blocks abandoned by major oil companies.
"There are blocks that were abandoned by Total. Others by
Eni. Several operators. But that doesn't mean that all the
exploration has been done," he said, but declined to give
Sockath said Congo was moving forward with plans to develop
the Eni-operated Litchendjili offshore gas field, with a part of
output destined for domestic electricity production and the
remainder set for a new LNG project.
"The gas field will enter production between 2015 and 2017,"
"There's an LNG project using barges. It's not a big plant
but a barge. That's planned for 2016 or 2017. Under the project
we've identified probable buyers in Asia, but I can't give you
the names," he said.