Oil Exploration and Production
The petroleum industry in Angola began in 1955 when oil was discovered in the onshore Kwanza (Cuanza) Valley by Petrofina, which, together with the Angolan government established the jointly-owned company, Fina Petroleos de Angola (Petrangol) and constructed a refinery at Luanda to process the oil. However, the main expansion of the country’s upstream oil industry came in the late 1960’s when the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (CABGOC) discovered oil offshore the coastal enclave of Cabinda. In 1973 oil became Angola’s principal export and numerous subsequent discoveries made in the Cabinda area and in the Angolan offshore have ensured that Angola will play a major role in Africa’s oil industry for the next few decades.

The national oil company Sociedade Nacional de Combustiveis de Angola (Sonangol) was established in 1976 to manage all fuel production and distribution. In the late 1970’s, the government initiated a programme to attract foreign oil companies. The Angolan coast, excluding Cabinda, was divided into 13 exploration blocks, which were leased to foreign companies under production sharing agreements. In 1978, the government authorised Sonangol to acquire a 51% interest in all oil companies operating in Angola, although the management of operations remained under the control of foreign companies. Another licensing round was held in 1997, when Sonangol invited bids for six deep-water blocks in water depths of over 200m. In the latest bidding round, Blocks 31 to 33 in deep to ultra deep waters were offered.

At the beginning of 2000, there were 29 offshore and onshore blocks under licence. Thirty companies held licences in Angola and of these 14 were operators. Since 1990 over 200 exploration and appraisal wells have been drilled. Block 0 (areas A, B and C) with an average output of 600,000 bpd remains Angola’s largest crude oil producer, accounting for 70% of production. CABGOC is the operator of Block 0 with partners, Sonangol, Elf Aquitaine, ENI-Agip.

The second largest producer is Block 3. The producing fields are Pacassa, Cobo/Pambi, Palanca and Oombo. Elf is operator and the other partners are Ajoco, Agip, Mitsubishi, Sonangol, INA-Naftaplin and Naftgas. Other producing blocks are Blocks 1, 2 and 4 operated by Agip and Texaco, Texaco and TotalFina and Ranger Oil respectively. Exploration is continuing on these blocks as well.

Following unsuccessfull appraisal wells drilled in Blocks1, 7 and 9, Energy Africa has relinquished its licenses for Blocks 1 and 7. However, the Albian rafts targets remain an area of focus for mid 2001. Energy Africa has a 15% interest, along with Texaco Exploration Benguela Inc (40%), Mobil Exploration Angola Inc (35%) and Norsk Hydro ASA (10%).

Onshore production is centered in Kwanza near Luanda and in the Congo Basin near Soyo. Onshore facilities have been severely hit by the civil war, especially those in the region of Soyo. Billion dollar post war rehabilitation programmes have been instituted.

During the 1990s significant deeper water discoveries were made in Blocks 14,15, 17 and 18. In 1997, CABGOC made the Kuito discovery on field 14, adjacent to Block 0. Kuito has recoverable reserves of 700 million to 1 billion barrels of crude. Kuito is to have the distinction of being Angola’s first deepwater “zero flare” field. All associated gas will either used as fuel for the FPSO or re-injected into the reservoir. Other fields on Block 14 include Benguela, Belize, and Landana. Possibly the most prolific of the blocks is Elf-operated Block 17 with fields Girassol, Dalia, Lirio, Rosa, Tulipa and Orquidea. Elf and its partners, Exxon, BP-Amoco, Statoil, Norsk Hydro and Fina, intend to invest $5 billion in Girassol and Dalia alone. Girassol is estimated to contain 700 million to 1 billion barrels of recoverable reserve. Dalia’s reserves are also estimated to be in the region of 1 billion barrels. Exxon made four discoveries on block 15, Kissanje (initial oil flows of 10,000 bpd), Marimba (test flow rate of 6,800 bpd), Hungo (test flow rate of 15,900 bpd) and Dikanza (test flow rate of 4,400 bpd). Total recoverable reserves on Block 15 are estimated to exceed 1 billion barrels.

As a result of these successes there is growing interest in Angola’s remaining blocks, and companies are focusing on establishing ways of reducing costs and improving cost-efficiency in these high risk, high cost deepwater areas. The exploration and production of deepwater and ultra-deepwater concessions have been aided by advances in technology and the use of FPSOs.

Natural Gas
Angola has estimated natural gas reserves of 1.6 Tcf. Approximately 85% of the gas is flared. Some is reinjected to enhance recovery of the crude. There are government initiatives to reduce the flaring of gas and to increase the consumption of natural gas. Nemba and Lomba fields in Block 0 are already both zero-flare and Kuito in Block 14 is to follow. All three fields are operated by CABGOC.

In Angola, according to the guidelines in Decree 13/78 all hydrocarbon deposits are vested in the State and mining rights are granted to the State-owned company Sonangol. Sonangol is authorised to enter into partnerships with foreign companies for exploration and production of hydrocarbons. The partnerships may take the form of a commercial company, a joint venture (JV) or a production-sharing contract (PSC).

Participating Organisations
BP plc

BP Amoco has interests in several exploration and production facilities in Angola.


ChevronTexaco’s subsidiary, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company Limited (CABGOC), is the operator of two concessions, Blocks 0 and 14, off the coast of Angola’s Cabinda exclave.


Eni,’s affiliate, Agip Angola, is involved in several exploration and production facilties in Angola.

ExxonMobil Corporation

ExxonMobil has interests in several production and exploration facilities in Angola.

INA Naftaplin

INA produces oil froim its 5% interest shareholding in several oilfields in Block3, offshore Angola.

Japanese National Oil Company

Through its subsidiary, the Angola Japan Oil Company (AJOCO), JNOC has a 25% interest in six oilfields from offshore Angola.

NIS NaftaGas

NIS Nafta gas has a 5% interest in several producing oilfields in Block 1and 2, offshore Angola.

Norsk Hydro ASA

Norsk has interests in several exploration and production facilities in Angola, including a 50% interest in SONAP, a joint venture company with Sonangol..

Petrolio Brasileiro S.A.

Through subsidiary Baspetro Angola, Petrobas produces oil from several offshore fields in Block 2.

Sociedade Nacional de Combustiveis de Angola

Sonangol is the state owned oil explorer and producer.


Statoil has several exploration and production interests in offshore Angola.


Through its subsidiary, Total Angola, TotalFinaElf has interests in several producing oilfields in offshore Angola.

AVEC provides a complete range of top quality design, engineering, project and construction management services to the minerals, metals, process and petrochemical industries.

AVEC provides a complete range of top quality design, engineering, project and construction management services to the minerals, metals, process and petrochemical industries.

Energy Africa is an upstream oil company which is active in oil exploration in a number of African countries.

CITAC, the premier company offering consultation and analysis, personnel training and business development in the African energy market, offers additional infomation about the industry in this country, including the only comprehensive report ever prepared on Oil Refining in Subsaharan Africa.

Shaun Bakamoso

Greetings. I'm Shaun Bakamoso, and I'm thrilled to be your guide through the dynamic world of business news in South Africa here at mbendi.co.za. With a passion for staying informed and a keen interest in the ever-evolving landscape of business, I've dedicated myself to providing you with timely, insightful, and comprehensive coverage of the latest developments impacting the South African economy. bakamoso@gmail.com / Instagram