Brazil’s Petrobrás on assessment mission in Guinea Bissau

6 October 2006

Bissau, Guinea Bissau, 06 Oct – Two representatives of Brazilian oil company Petrobrás speaking to Portuguese news agency Lusa in Bissau said there were “proven” oil reserves off the coast of Guinea Bissau.

Manoel Murilo Silva, director of International Affairs for Africa, Europe and the Middle East and Fausto Machado Coelho, manager of the Office for Supervising Exploratory Projects, said that on the basis of initial data they would now analyze, at company headquarters, the feasibility of investing in Guinea Bissau. They said Petrobrás was interested in bidding for two blocs in Guinea’s offshore area.

Murilo Silva and Machado Coelho, who arrive din Bissau Wednesday, left Thursday for Dakar, the Senegalese capital, where they will negotiate with the local authorities to bid for a bloc in the joint exploration area.

That area, located along the sea border between Guinea Bissau and Senegal, was defined in 1995, when the president of Guinea Bissau, João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, negotiated with his Senegalese counterpart, Abdou Diouf, an agreement for joint exploration of an area that includes Guinean territorial waters.

Under the terms of that agreement, Senegal and Guinea Bissau equally share all fishing resources, but in terms of oil exploration, 85 percent of the resources would be in Dakar’s hands, with Bissau retaining the remaining 15 percent.

In 2000, after becoming president of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, Kumba Ialá renegotiated the oil agreement with Dakar and managed to obtain 5 percent more in relation to what was stipulated on the previous protocol.

The Petrobrás directors are to analyze the investment possibilities in Dakar, as one of the blocs the Brazilian company is interested in is within the joint exploration area.

In august Guinea Bissau and Brazil signed a protocol with the aim of cooperating in the fuel sector, which is the basis for the exploratory mission by Petrobrás to Bissau, which included meetings wit the Natural Resources Minister, Aristides Ocante da Silva, and with directors of Petroguin the state oil company.

The issue of Guinean oil, which was kept secret until last May, when the Prime Minister Aristides Gomes admitted there was oil in the country, has led the Guinean authorities to make a number of contacts with several oil-producing countries. (macauhub)