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Natural Gas Discovery Boosts Angola’s Outlook

U.S. company Cobalt has announced the discovery of condensates and natural gas in the Zalophus #1 well in Block 20 offshore Angola, in the sixth pre-salt discovery offshore Angola, and the third such in this same block.

Cobalt is currently the operator of the block with a 40 percent stake in partnership, while state-run Sonangol holds 30 percent and BP Exploration Angola holds 30 percent.

Cobalt is calling the find “significant”, though no detailed data is yet available.

Last month, Sonangol also discovered huge reserves of oil and natural gas, which according to initial estimates could produce up to 2 million barrels a day for three years.

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Despite the significant exploration success, last year Cobalt sold its stake in two blocks to Sonangol, though the sale has not yet been concluded. The sale includes its stake in the block where the discovery was just announced. Stake in another block was sold in August 2015.

Earlier this month, Cobalt reported a net loss from continuing operations of $30.8 million for the first quarter of this year.

Angola produces some 1.6 million barrels per day of oil, fast closing in on the number one producer in Africa—Nigeria. A member of OPEC, Angola is dependent on oil for 95 percent of its export revenues and is facing an urgent cash flow problem that requires external aid. Last month, Moody’s downgraded Angola’s credit rating to B1.

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Angola has sought financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to weather the crisis engulfing the African nation due to low oil prices, while President José Eduardo dos Santos has gone as far as to dip into the country’s sovereign wealth fund just to pay civil servant salaries.

Last June, the World Bank approved a US$650-million package of loans for Angola to help it cope with falling oil prices.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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