January 23, 2018 / 6:23 PM / 4 months ago

Exclusive: Angola opens up fuel imports with first major tender - sources

(Reuters) - Angolan state oil firm Sonangol has issued its first public tender to buy refined products to widen its import base, market sources who have seen the tender said, in a sign the country is committed to reforming its oil industry.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the head office of Angolan state oil company Sonangol in the capital Luanda, August 26, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

For years OPEC member Angola has largely relied on commodities trader Trafigura for fuel imports. The trader still supplies gasoil but major competitor Vitol recently edged in to supply the country with gasoline.

Heavily reliant on oil sales for government income, Angola was crushed by the 2014 oil price crash, which pushed its economy into recession and created foreign currency shortages that crippled business.

President Joao Lourenco has committed to economic reforms and ordered a review of the country’s oil industry after he took office last September, succeeding Jose Eduardo dos Santos who stepped down after 38 years in power.

Lourenco also sacked the former president’s daughter Isabel as head of Sonangol - an appointment made by her father in 2016 - after oil majors complained of payment backlogs and delayed project approvals.

The tender to buy refined products signals one step towards reform of the oil industry.

One of the sources said the tender would close on Jan. 31 and was looking for 1.2 million tonnes of gasoline, 2.1 million tonne of gasoil and 480,000 tonnes of marine fuel.

“The real market liberalization is still to come as Sonangol remains the monopoly importer,” one of the sources said.

Reporting By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Julia Payne; Editing by David Goodman and Susan Fenton

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