Sonangol buys 20 pct Marathon Oil stake that was previously promised to Chinese companies

25 September 2009

Luanda, Angola, 25 Sept – Angolan state oil company Sonangol is to buy the 20 percent stake owned by US company Marathon Oil in block 32, in Angola, and which was expected to be sold to two Chinese companies.

“We are going to buy that stake,” a Sonangol spokesman told the Reuters news agency, without specifying when the deal would be done.

Sonangol already owns 20 percent of the deepwater offshore oil block, and would thus take its stake to 40 percent.

In July Marathon Oil had announced the sale of its stake in the block to Chinese companies Sinopec and China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), for US$1.3 billion, but Sonangol exercised its preferential right to the deal and announced it would acquire the stake for the same price as the Chinese companies.

Marathon, the United States’ fourth-largest oil company will keep a 10 percent stake in the block, where 12 oil strikes have so far been announced.

Any one of Marathon’s partners in the block could take on the US company’s 20 percent stake if it were to equal the offer and exercised their preferential right.

The block’s operator is France’s Total, with 30 percent. Angolan state company Sonangol has 20 percent, a unit of Exxon Mobil has 15 percent and Portugal’s Galp has 5 percent.

The 12 wells discovered so far in block 32 are Louro, Cominhos, Caril, Gindungo, Canela, Cola, Gengibre, Mostarda, Salsa, Colorau, Manjericão and Alho.

Specialists estimate that block 32 has reserves of over 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Production is expected to begin in 2012. (macauhub)