Chevron Corp. is finalizing a production-sharing agreement with Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo to operate their shared offshore oil block, 14c and the common interest zone. The two countries have been negotiating development of the block in the Atlantic Ocean for about 15 years. Congolese Oil Minister Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga is pushing to expand Congo’s oil output from 25,000 bpd and is auctioning 27 new blocks as part of the effort. Angola pumped about 1 MMbpd in March, making it Africa’s third-biggest producer.
Angola’s state-owned Sonangol EP has taken over its role as national concessionaire in the partnership, which is split equally between the two countries. Sonangol is writing off a $200 million debt owed to it by the Congolese state oil company, now known as Sonahydroc SA. The debt stems from a 2012 transaction in which Sonangol paid $150 million to Gertler’s Nessergy Ltd. to relinquish its shares in the common interest zone. Sonangol also financed a previously unreported payment of $50 million to the firm of Antoine Ghonda, an adviser to former Congolese President Joseph Kabila. The U.S. government sanctioned Gertler for alleged corruption in Congo in 2017, saying it represented “a loss of $149.5 million in potential revenue” for the country. Oil production from the block could start as early as two years after a deal is signed.