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In 2010, Angola was producing 1.9 million barrels of oil per day, and all signs pointed to an even more prosperous future. Government officials estimated that by 2011, production would reach 2.2 million Bbls/d. However, problems in its oil fields and delays on new projects have prevented Angola from hitting last year's target.
Things are beginning to turn around, however, as the country recently issued licenses to exploration and production companies to begin exploring its offshore pre-salt formation that many experts say geologically mirrors Brazil's booming oil fields. Today I'll highlight six companies with the potential to reap big gains from Angola's new fields.
Cobalt International Energy (NYSE: CIE ) reported last week that an exploration well off the coast of Angola found hydrocarbons. The stock jumped as a result and is a good omen for the other companies that secured exploration licenses in the coveted pre-salt play.
How much oil?
Angola produces 2% of the world's oil. Angola's neighbors to the north produce another 4%, a number that will probably jump as exploration and production continue in Western Africa.
Oil Production (Barrels Per Day)
Source: Reuters and Financial Times.
*Expected by year's end.
Angola's production numbers finally began to jump in September, indicating that companies with stakes in the country have good things in store next year.
Cobalt wasn't the only company to secure exploration licenses for Angola's pre-salt play. Here are some of the other players in the region.
- Eni (NYSE: E ) : Italy's energy giant currently produces 130,000 Boe/d in Angola. The company signed a production-sharing contract in one of the offshore blocks that requires it to drill two wells and acquire a 3-D seismic survey. Eni expects the exploration period to last five years.
- Statoil (NYSE: STO ) : The Norwegian company paid more than $1 billion for its two stakes in the pre-salt play.
- BP (NYSE: BP ) : Signed production-sharing agreements across four blocks in two basins, bringing its overall total to a stake in nine different blocks. The Angola agreements are indicative of BP's new global exploration initiative, signing 69 new licenses in 11 countries over the past year and change.
- Total (NYSE: TOT ) : Signed production-sharing agreements for three blocks, acting as operator for two of them. In the most recent quarter, more than 25% of Total's worldwide oil production came from its African operations.
Angola has its fair share of problems. The government is currently being accused of "misplacing" $32 billion in oil revenues. It's a big deal, but even more so when most of your citizens live in poverty. Nigeria is a perfect example of what happens when Big Oil revenues don't filter down to a country's people, and it contributes to the geopolitical risk of operating in Angola.
Increasing production from Angola will serve these companies well, especially those that have seen operations slow or come to a complete halt in countries such as Libya and Syria. The situation should also be monitored, as, despite OPEC quotas, increased production from Angola may put downward pressure on global oil prices. Add these companies to My Watchlist to stay up to date on the oil story in West Africa.