Oil Report

Russia's Alrosa receives Angola oil licenses

MOSCOW, Dec 19 (Reuters) - A consortium of companies including Russia’s diamond monopoly Alrosa has received a license from Angola’s oil ministry for crude oil exploration in the southwest African country, the company said on Wednesday.

Alrosa, along with Angola’s state-run oil and gas firm Sonangol and oil company Dark Oil, will explore onshore deposits in the areas of the Lower Congo, Upper Kwanza, Etosha, Okavango, Kassanje and will also work offshore on Angola’s sea shelf under the Atlantic ocean.

“Angola is one of the biggest oil suppliers in Africa. For the moment we’re only geographically exploring. It’s too early to give amounts on how much we expect to extract,” said Alrosa’s spokesman Andrei Polyakov, adding Alrosa is the first Russian company to be given oil exploration licenses in Angola.

Alrosa, which is the world’s second largest diamond producer after De Beers, providing a quarter of the world’s diamonds, has previously said it was interested in Angolan diamond opportunities.

Last year, Alrosa’s president Sergei Vybornov said the company would make an initial investment of $50 million to explore Angolan oil opportunities, though Polyakov declined to comment on investments.

Angola is a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and pumps more than one million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and production is projected to reach at least two million bpd by 2008.

Alrosa, which has said it is considering a possible initial public share offering in the near future, is owned by the Russian Federation and the government of Yakutia, the northeast Siberian region where the company’s diamonds are mined, sometimes in -60 Celsius temperatures. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; editing by James Jukwey)