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Angola's Oil Industry - A Century of Progress in Exploration and Production


In 2015 Angola will have experienced a century of oil exploration and production. A variety of wide-ranging, high potential plays have led to a dramatic surge in Angola's oil production. A decade ago, Angola was producing approximately 750,000 bopd (barrels of oil per day) and now production of almost 2.0 million bopd has been achieved. In the late 1700's Portuguese colonialists discovered oil seeps and asphalt deposits at Libongos, about 60 km north of Luanda and shipped some of the oil to Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro to be used a caulking material to prevent water leakage into their ships. First-ever drilling for oil was in 1915 about 40 km northeast of Luanda. Dande-4 drilled in 1916 was tested at 6 bopd and was subsequently abandoned but it signified the first flow of oil in Angola. In 1956 the Benfica oil field, near Luanda, went on production representing the beginning of oil production in Angola. The first offshore oil field in Angola, Malongo, was discovered in 1968 in the Angola province of Cabinda by the American company, Gulf Oil. In 1996 Elf Petroleum discovered the Girassol oil field on Block 17 in 1,300 meters of water about 140 kilometers off the coast of Angola. Additional drilling by Elf proved Girassol to be a giant-size oil field, with the oil bearing reservoir located in clastics of Oligocene age which were deposited as turbidites. This led to many more such discoveries. As a result, about 75% of Angola's current production now comes from such reservoirs. In 2011, 11 deepwater to ultra-deepwater pre-salt blocks in the Kwanza and Benguela Basins were awarded by Sonangol to a number of operators. Since that time, very encouraging pre-salt oil discoveries have been drilled by Maersk and Cobalt. In July, 2013 the LNG plant at Soyo, in northern Angola commenced production at 5.2 million tonnes per year. On an energy-equivalent basis, this amounts to about 200,000 barrels of oil per day. The first shipment of LNG was to a Petrobras LNG deliquification plant in Rio de Janeiro and thereafter 4 shipments of LNG from Angola were delivered to customers in Asia.