Oil rig pump jacks. Angola aims to benefit from the rising crude oil price. Photo: Reuters
INTERNATIONAL – Angola plans to auction nine blocks this year and is seeking to build new refineries as Africa’s second-biggest oil producer looks to benefit from a surge in crude prices that could boost companies’ appetite for investments.

The tenders for the offshore areas are part of efforts to lure back global explorers that cut spending after crude crashed in 2014, driving down output in the oil-dependent nation. The nine blocks are located in the Namibe basin, Angolan Oil Minister Diamantino Azevedo said, and are part of 55 that local newspaper Expansão has reported are expected to go under the hammer until 2025.

The government is offering tax concessions for companies developing smaller fields, cutting bureaucracy and selling parts of state-owned oil company Sonangol to attract foreign companies. Some of the efforts are bearing fruit as French major Total and Italy’s Eni began pumping from new areas in the past year and other blocks are set to start or resume this year, Azevedo said.

“International oil companies are carrying out efforts to increase oil production,” Azevedo said in response to questions. “They’ve invested in the recovery of active fields and in the development of new exploration and production projects.”

Angola’s output has declined in recent years due to lower investments in new projects and as ageing fields deplete. The drop has put a strain on an economy that depends on oil for more than 90percent of its exports.

President João Lourenço, who came to power in 2017, is trying to revive finances by attracting foreign investment, tackling corruption and selling assets.

Angola’s crude output is forecast to fall to 1.434 million barrels a day this year from 1.479 million barrels a day last year, Azevedo said.