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French Oil Giant Downsizes in Angola

French oil giant Total SA last week announced it had sold its 15% stake in an oil block offshore Angola for $750 million as the company seeks to boost financing for core exploration and production.

Angola’s state-owned Sonangol purchased the 15% stake in block 15/06 from Total, which also owns interests in other offshore blocks in the country and has been the leading producer in Angola, with 2013 total output reaching 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.  

"The sale of our interest in block 15/06 is in line with Total's global strategy to actively manage its portfolio and focus its investment capability on core assets in which it has more material interests," said Jacques Marraud des Grottes, Total's senior vice president for its African exploration and production division.

Under a new law enacted in Angola on 22 November, oil explorers will have to pay a 0.1% duty on the value of imported materials for oil and gas exploration and production, removing an exemption of duties that was previously in place. The list of imported materials subject to the new duty has not yet been published.

This follows a new law that took effect in October levying a consumption tax of up to 10% of spending by oil companies for services and supplies, including the rental of drilling rigs. The consumption tax increases will give the government more cash to finance infrastructure.

State-owned Sonangol EP is preparing to explore five onshore blocks, which if discoveries are made will be tendered for development. Four of these blocks are in the Kwanza basin, while the fifth is in the Lower Congo basin.

Angola is also gearing up to auction off 10 new onshore blocks this year, but Sonangol will retain a 50% share in four of them in the Kwanza basin and will hold exploration rights in five other blocks on the list, as we reported earlier in Oil & Energy Insider.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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